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18/06 – Behind the rhetoric, is a Greek deal still possible?

New meetings between Greece and its creditors are scheduled for today within the Eurogroup, a meeting of Finance Ministers from the euro area, in the presence of IMF Managing Director Lagarde, US and European media report. During their meeting today, the EU Ministers of Finance will probably only talk shortly about Greece, because Athens has not yet presented new proposals, FAZ highlights.

The German newspaper quotes Commissioner Moscovici as saying that the Eurogroup meeting “may not be conclusive, but helpful,” while EC Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis solely expects an “evaluation of the situation.” Le Figaro fears that today’s Eurogroup meeting might be another round of negotiations to no avail, the only common feature between the two sides being intransigence. Talks are stalling, if not taking a turn for the worse.

International creditors have changed their approach and now seem to dare the Greek government to make its default threats a reality. EC President Juncker has lost his patience with the Tsipras government, and Brussels keeps saying that “the ball is in the Greek court” – as does Bundesbank President Weidmann in interviews with Les Echos and El Mundo. In another interview with La Stampa, Mr Weidmann adds that, should Greece exit the euro, a risk of contagion does exist. Even the idea of an extraordinary European summit to patch things up has seemingly vanished, as Ecofin Commissioner Moscovici has confirmed, Le Figaro further notes.

The Greek situation is serious and the country’s leaders must end their poker game to break the deadlock before it is too late, Arnaud Leparmentier writes in an editorial in Le Monde. Germany, The Daily Telegraph reports, has even disclosed that it is making contingency plans for Greece to leave the euro as “make or break talks” are expected to end without agreement today. Yesterday, the Central Bank of Greece warned, for the first time, that the failure of negotiations could generate “an incontrollable crisis that will affect the banking system and the financial stability of the country,” European and US media report.

Moreover, the institution warned that the economic slowdown would accelerate in the absence of an agreement with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF’s representatives. Syriza responded by saying that the central bank was undermining the government’s negotiating position with its creditors but, according to The Wall Street Journal Europe, the central bank’s intervention underlines how institutions outside politics are becoming affected by the uncertainty over the country’s future. Naftemporiki’s tone contrasts with the pessimistic one found in most US and European media, including some other Greek sources.

EC President Juncker, the Greek newspaper notes, yesterday had a telephone communication with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in an effort to find a solution to the Greek issue before the end of the month, ensuring the country’s financing and avoiding a possible accident. According to Naftemporiki’s sources, the climate of the communication was good, and both men agreed to talk in detail after Mr Tsipras’ return from Russia within the weekend.

In a positive tone, Naftemporiki comments that Mr Juncker confirmed the principle according to which the euro area finds compromising solutions. The newspaper further highlights that unconfirmed sources spoke of new compromising proposals that Mr Juncker and Eurogroup Chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem will present at the Eurogroup.


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