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Athens makes more and more concessions to Eurozone

Tsipras’ TV interview on Monday is widely covered by European media. According to El País’s leader writer, the Greek PM is applying a carrot-and-stick policy in his negotiations with the country’s creditors over a debt deal; he has on the one hand sought a less aggressive negotiating style by sidelining Yanis Varoufakis, while on the other hand he has threatened to call a referendum.

Greek voters, the Greek Prime Minister said, could be asked to decide on whether to approve an agreement with creditors that may not be in line with Syriza’s campaign pledge to end austerity. “Greece could hold a referendum on its links with Europe if its creditors refuse to back down on demands for austerity measures,” he is quoted in The Times. The promises made to Europe, Laurent Joffrin claims in an editorial in Libération, are in such a direct conflict with Syriza’s campaign promises that they might prove impossible to honour.

For FAZ’s Rainer Herrmann, the threat of a referendum may offer Mr Tsipras a way out, as there is much evidence that the Greeks trust Europe more than their own politicians. By proposing this referendum, Tsipras gives himself space for political manoeuvring, as it seems that he has his back against the wall in the negotiations and that he is slowly losing the support of the Greek public,

HFD says in a more neutral stance, stressing that Eurogroup President Dijsselbloem responded negatively to the suggestion of a Greek referendum. “I am not afraid of a referendum, but I am not sure it will help. It will take a lot of time, and we don’t have that,” Mr Dijsselbloem said – his statements being quoted by other media as well. As reported by Kathimerini, Mr Dijsselbloem told RTL TV that a referendum would cost money and would create political uncertainty, highlighting that time is running out.

What is more, following the Greek Finance Minister’s removal from his role as Greece’s chief debt talks negotiator, Mr Tsipras stressed that he still supports Yanis Varoufakis, The Telegraph Business reports. An unnamed EU official is quoted by The Guardian as saying that Mr Varoufakis’ removal as Greece’s chief debt talks negotiator “should be helpful.” The more conciliatory Euclid Tsakalotos, Le Monde notes, replaces Mr Varoufakis at the head of the Greek negotiating team, accompanied by some of Mr Tsipras’ close collaborators.

EU officials, The Guardian add, have “welcomed the greater involvement of Giorgos Houliarakis, an ally of the pragmatic Deputy Prime Minister, Yannis Dragasakis.” Mr Tsipras, HFD reports, showed optimism and stated that a deal might not be far off; he has named the 8th of May as a probable date for an accord, three days before a new Eurogroup meeting. Whereas the European Commission has confirmed that since last weekend there has been an improvement in the negotiations, Mr Dijsselbloem said that a new deal before 11 May might be too optimistic.

In an article entitled “The disastrous strategy of behind-closed-doors negotiations,” Jean Quatremer says in Libération that the euro area and the IMF actually claim that they are nowhere near an agreement with Athens. Athens’ new proposals to the Greek Parliament will not be enough to satisfy European partners, FAZ further claims. However, a spokesperson for European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Moscovici stressed that talks are continuing, adding that Mr Tsipras communicated with EC President Juncker in the framework of the European Council, Nerit reports.

As a guest on Arte Journal, European Commissioner Moscovici stressed the urgency of an agreement: “We need, in the coming weeks, to be able to draw a complete list of reforms.” Regarding social measures, Mr Moscovici stressed that the European Commission “is here to help the Greeks,” but for now the reforms are not yet concrete enough. “Let’s accelerate, accelerate, and accelerate. There is no time to lose,” he said.


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