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01/06 – Greek debt talks: pressure is mounting

All Greek media report that the Greek issue was at the focal point of the G7 meeting, with the US warning over a “possible accident” for the global economy if Greece and its creditors go over the June deadline and the Greeks do not manage to avoid default. Speaking to reporters after a meeting of policymakers from the G7 economies, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said a speedy deal would reduce the chances of an accident and he wanted to see a pragmatic outcome to the protracted crisis, US media noted.

An agreement which would save Greece from bankruptcy could be reached between Greece and its creditors this week, sources such as Der Tagesspiegel, Magyar Hirlap and Diário Económico report, while others such as The Times stress that Greece’s chances of striking a deal to access a much-needed €7.2 billion in rescue aid looked even bleaker yesterday after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused bailout monitors of making “absurd” demands and seeking to impose “harsh punishment” on Athens. Greece and its creditors, Les Echos further comments, are running out of time to find common ground for an agreement and save Athens from an increasing default risk. Anyway, more negotiations are to follow, Der Tagesspiegel stresses, notably over a third aid package which “must clearly come,” and both parts “will not spare each other anything.”

Neither the creditors nor Greece are keen about it, the German newspaper says, as it would mean that Syriza will have to make concessions. According to some media such as Magyar Hirlap and Les Echos, the Greek government seems to compromise on pre-election promises, as the cabinet would be ready to withdraw one part of its programme. Some elements of the government’s programme could be pushed back by 6 months or a year. “We consider that we will and we should have an answer and a deal in a week”, Greece’s Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis is quoted as saying by Magyar Hirlap.

Nikos Voutsis indeed declared this weekend that the Greek executive believes an agreement can be reached “within a week” and that it is ready to make concessions to see that happen, such as delaying the application of anti-austerity measures, Les Echos further reports. In an interview with Corriere della Sera mentioned by The Times, Greek Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis also said that he expected a deal in “a few days,” followed by a meeting of eurozone finance ministers to approve the €7.2 billion bailout tranche that has been withheld since last year.

In an interview with Kathimerini, EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis actually says that the EU is working intensively in order to reach an agreement at the technical level with the Greek authorities as soon as possible. In another interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted by and some other sources, EC President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that a Greek exit from the euro area could harm the confidence in the single currency. Commenting on the on-going negotiations for Greece, European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Friday that there is no Plan B, adding that there has been progress both in the process and in the essence of the negotiations, Cypriot media report.

EC Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas reiterated on Friday that the only scenario on the table is that Greece will remain in the eurozone, noting that the institutions may have different opinions on several issues in the negotiations but everyone is working towards the same goal, Cypriot media add. Greece, Mr Juncker further said, will be on the agenda of his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. European Commissioner Günther Oettinger however told Die Welt that he does not anticipate that today’s meeting between Jean-Claude Juncker, Angela Merkel and François Hollande will lead to a breakthrough for the Greek financial crisis.

According to Diário Económico, rumours indicate, though, that the negotiations have finally reached the top level with discussion among heads of state. The European leaders are said to have instructed their finance ministers to reach a political agreement to unblock some money allowing Greece to pay the IMF. Once this stage of the negotiations ends, Greece can start negotiating a third programme, this time without the IMF.


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