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02/02 – Greek Government tour European capitals

The Greek executive has begun its diplomatic tour of European capitals to find allies against Germany and budgetary orthodoxy. Greece’s Prime Minister Tsipras will be visiting Rome, Paris and Brussels this week in the hope of gathering support in his attempt to write off Greece’s debt in exchange for maintaining a budget surplus and conducting structural reforms – “a difficult challenge”, Les Echos’ Renaud Honoré comments.

Greece, all Greek media say, appears to be at the beginning of a negotiation for a “road map” towards a new contract and a new financing package, despite what they describe as the increasing pressure exercised by European partners. According to a Handelsblatt information finding coverage in The Daily Telegraph, EC President Juncker would want to abolish the Troika for Greece, thereby meeting one of the central demands of the new Greek Prime Minister.

The German government, the German newspaper adds, would be prepared to agree to a reform of the Troika, too. Juncker and Tsipras both want to end “mutual confrontations and negotiate instead,” SZ reports. The European Commission will cooperate with the Greek government and keep aiding Greece, reinforcing European solidarity, but negotiations are needed, European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici says in an interview with Expresso. We will do everything to prevent Greece leaving the eurozone, he further tells BBC Hardtalk.

The European Commission is ready to enter discussions, based on the fact that what has been agreed on will be respected, EC Vice-President Jyrki Katainen echoes in a DLF interview. US NPR for instance reports that Tsipras has moved to reassure the ECB that he does plan to seek a compromise. A compromise must be found, as “the stability of the euro area is in the interest of all,” Greek Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos says in an interview with Bild Zeitung. ]

The Greek government is adopting a “conciliatory” tone, Les Echos says, noting that European governments expressed support to renegotiating Greek debt, not writing if off. Distrust between euro countries and the newly formed Greek government is substantial, De Volkskrant further writes as European leaders did not appreciate Mr Tsipras’ electoral promises of putting an end to the Troika visits and of cancellation of the debt. “Solidarity in Europe is no one-way-street,” EP President Martin Schulz tells ZDF, while hoping that Mr Tsipras will return to reason.

Tsipras must not make true his “irresponsible” announcements, Commissioner Oettinger tells ZDF. As far as Paris is concerned, a debt write-off is out of question, and French Finance Minister Sapin said, after his meeting with his Greek counterpart Yanis Varoufakis yesterday, that he was prepared to discuss “elements leading to an easing of the burden.” This means a rescheduling of repayments, or an interest rate cut, Le Figaro notes.

For El Pais, this is a positive feedback from Paris. It will take four months to agree on a new contract with Greece’s creditors, Yanis Varoufakis has already said – as quoted by The Financial Times. As to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, he reassured Angela Merkel in a long telephone call that there would be “no Mediterranean axis” with Greece, Il Sole 24 Ore reports. For The Daily Telegraph, there are contrary indicators. “We have to be prepared for either a messy deal or a messy exit from the euro,” the British daily claims. “Media misinformation on Greece misleads European leaders,” ©EuropeanUnion2015

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