ATHENS

The Pak Banker - - BUSINESS -

Greece's main stock ex­change in Athens will re­open on Mon­day (to­day) af­ter be­ing closed for five weeks by the Greek debt cri­sis af­ter the gov­ern­ment im­posed cap­i­tal con­trols, a fi­nance min­istry source said.

The ex­change has been closed since June 29, when the gov­ern­ment im­posed cap­i­tal con­trols to pre­vent a bank­ing col­lapse.

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Eu­clid Tsakalo­tos signed the or­der Fri­day that also in­cludes re­stric­tions for Greece-based traders for an un­spec­i­fied time pe­riod. A 60 euro limit on cash ma­chines with­drawal will re­main in place.

Tsakalo­tos met with lead ne­go­tia­tors from the Euro­pean Union and In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund to start ne­go­ti­a­tions for a third bailout worth 85 bil­lion eu­ros ($93 bil­lion), fol­low­ing sev­eral days of prepara­tory meet­ings be­tween lower-level of­fi­cials on re­form­ing the tax sys­tem and la­bor mar­ket reg­u­la­tions.

The third bailout will in­clude a new pun­ish­ing round of aus­ter­ity mea­sures heaped on a coun­try reel­ing from a six-year re­ces­sion and more than 25 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment. Prime Min­is­ter Alexis Tsipras has pledged to back the new cut­backs, while openly ad­mit­ting that he dis­agrees with them. "We will im­ple­ment them, yes, be­cause we are forced to," he said in par­lia­ment Fri­day. "But at the same time we will strug­gle to change them, to im­prove them and to counter their neg­a­tive con­se­quences."

The bailout talks with the IMF, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Cen­tral Bank and Euro­pean Sta­bil­ity Mech­a­nism must be con­cluded be­fore Aug. 20. That's when a debt re­pay­ment to the ECB worth more than 3 bil­lion eu­ros is due - money which Greece does not have.

Tsakalo­tos said the talks are fo­cused on how to re­cap­i­tal­ize Greece's bat­tered bank­ing sys­tem, whose de­posit base was badly hit in re­cent months as Greeks fear­ing a euro exit emp­tied their ac­counts. The talks also ad­dressed Greece's pri­va­ti­za­tion com­mit­ments and bud­get sur­plus tar­gets. "As you can un­der­stand, there was con­ver­gence on some points, and less con­ver­gence on oth­ers," he said.

Fri­day's meet­ings came hours af­ter Tsipras de­feated a bid by dis­senters in his left-wing Syriza party to push for an end to bailout ne­go­ti­a­tions and seek a re­turn to the old na­tional cur­rency, the drachma.

The party's gov­ern­ing cen­tral com­mit­tee backed a pro­posal by Tsipras to hold an emer­gency party con­fer­ence in Septem­ber, af­ter the talks have been con­cluded.

Dis­senters had sought a con­fer­ence ear­lier, press­ing the gov­ern­ment to aban­don the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In Par­lia­ment, Tsipras de­fended his flam­boy­ant for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter, Yanis Varoufakis, who came un­der heavy fire over rev­e­la­tions that he had drafted con­tin­gency plans for a par­al­lel pay­ment sys­tem that could have eased a euro exit.

"Of course I is­sued per­sonal in­struc­tions to the fi­nance min­is­ter to cre­ate a team that would work on a plan of de­fense in the event of a na­tional emer­gency," Tsipras told par­lia­ment, an­swer­ing a ques­tion from the op­po­si­tion. "It would have been po­lit­i­cally naive and ir­re­spon­si­ble not to do so. Does that mean ... that I was seek­ing an emer­gency?" he said, an­grily re­ject­ing ac­cu­sa­tions that he had in­tended to take the coun­try out of the 19-coun­try eu­ro­zone.

Tsipras did not di­rectly ad­dress Varoufakis' more con­tro­ver­sial claim that he had been plan­ning to hack into his own min­istry's tax records to by­pass of­fi­cials al­legedly un­der the con­trol of Greece's cred­i­tors. Varoufakis had al­leged that the aim would have been to cre­ate a par­al­lel bank­ing sys­tem to deal with a po­ten­tial clo­sure of the coun­try's banks. But Tsipras de­fended the for­mer min­is­ter's in­tegrity."Mr Varoufakis may have made mis­takes," he said.

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