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24/06 -Debates and expectations ahead of tonight’s Eurogroup meeting on Greece amidst growing protest in Athens

Most media outlets continue to grant their opinion upon this crucial week for Greece, as Finance ministers of the Eurozone are to meet again today to further discuss the Greek proposals. Les Echos reports that “an important work of negotiations” has been accomplished since Monday by Greece and its creditors, which allows hopes for a “total agreement” to be concluded during tonight’s Eurogroup meeting.

According to a Commission source, the evolution of the Greek position “has to be praised”. Efimerida ton Syntakton also reports that there is optimism that Greece and the institutions will reach an agreement today, as EC spokesperson Margaritis Schinas reiterated that the Greek proposal is a “strong step forward” and a “good basis” for the achievement of progress. Expansión‘s leader writer argues that the euro area anyway cannot allow to end the week without having cleared the Greek scenario, calling on both European authorities and the Government of Alexis Tsipras to weigh up the possibility of a third bailout ensuring the repayment of the hefty volume of Greek debt maturing in the mid-term.

Les Echos meanwhile quotes US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, saying it is time for Europeans to “do their share” and meet the Greek halfway for the signature of an agreement this week. Werner Mussler sums up the situation by writing in FAZ that today’s meeting will be “decisive”. In Handelsblatt, Jens Münchrath writes that the “final showdown” tomorrow actually seems set to become a compromise instead, however stressing that the reforms presented by Alexis Tsipras will be extremely difficult to implement, as the government´s support among Greek citizens is waning.

Several newspapers as Les Echos indeed report that although “90% of the work is now done”, the proposal remains to be validated by the Greek Parliament and accepted by the IMF, which seems to be unconvinced by the lack of adjustments in expenditure and structural reforms. The Times focuses on divisions that opened up between the IMF and eurozone last night, while El País reports that a faction within Alexis Tsipras’ party criticised on Tuesday the concessions made to the country’s EU partners, warning that a deal will fail to be pushed through parliament.

El País’ José Ignacio Torreblanca notes that the Eurogroup has indeed obliged Tsipras to perform a dramatic about-face from his election pledges. Yet Alexis Tsipras placed his continuity in the government under the condition of the deal’s acceptance by the Parliament, Le Monde explains. Therefore, Greece may be forced to hold new elections, Bo Inge Andersson writes on SVT.se. Were Mr Tsipras not to win support from all Syriza backbenchers, he could also be forced to seek votes from opposition pro-European parties, such as socialist Pasok or liberal To Potami, El País adds; Tageblatt believes that passing the bill with support of the opposition against some of his own MPs would be “no good news”, as “a country forced on its knees won’t stand up again easily”.

In FAZ, Werner Mussler however warns that Athens´ cooperation is not guaranteed and that whatever agreement is reached, it will most likely fail to solve Greece´s problems in the long term. He argues that the only thing that is guaranteed is that Greece will need additional help, as the questions of how to manage its debt, build a functioning state and revive the Greek economy remain unsettled. The much desired agreement with Greece to prevent the imminent default is just the first step of a much longer process, which will very likely mean a third bailout programme and another haircut, Diário Económico confirms.

In Le Figaro, economist Nicolas Bouzou also writes that despite the likely agreement on the Greek debt, which will buy some time, it will remain all the same impossible for Athens to repay the entirety of its debt; therefore we should work on a restructuring plan instead of letting Greece default. If we continue, out of moral principles to demand a full repayment of the debt, we will simply lose Greece, he warns, which would have unpredictable economic consequences and would be geopolitically damaging for Europe.

A Grexit is still contemplated as the easiest solution; Het Laatste Nieuws quotes economist Peter De Keyzer saying that “the odds of a Grexit stand at 50%”. In Le Figaro, Yves de Kerdrel writes that we should not keep in the euro area a country which has been knowingly violating the club rules for the past five years. Contrary to 2011, and aside from well-meaning technocrats like Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, most policymakers have more or less clearly stated that it would be sheer madness to give in to the Greek demands with no compensation in terms of structural reforms, he argues, adding that “the Grexit will save Europe”.

In Jornal de Negócios, Carlos Barradas also stands against Greece’s deal, arguing that Greece has reached the end of the line and that preventing a Grexit will be more expensive than letting it happen. In Der Tagesspiegel, Gerd Appenzeller writes that Alexis Tsipras is “blackmailing Europe”, as well as exploiting Greece´s strategically important position in the Mediterranean and its NATO membership to compensate for its financial instability.

Yet “nobody wants to leave fingerprints on the murder weapon if Greece falls,” as Reuters summed up the state of mind according to Delo. Kathimerini reports that Alexis Tsipras will have an extraordinary meeting with EC President Juncker, ECB President Draghi, IMF Managing Director Lagarde and Eurogroup Chairman Dijsselbloem today in Brussels.

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