NEWS

Troika expected in Athens early next week, gov't says

Representatives of Greece’s troika of international creditors – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – will return to Athens early next week as originally planned, government sources said on Thursday, rebuffing reports that the inspectors had put their visit on hold due to a dispute over Greece’s fiscal gap for next year and delays in the implementation of economic reforms.

Finance Ministry sources said a meeting between Minister Yannis Stournaras and the troika mission chiefs had been scheduled for Tuesday. The ECB envoy, Klaus Masuch, is reportedly due to appear in the European Parliament early on Tuesday but will fly to Athens immediately afterward, the sources said, adding that the IMF and EC representatives were expected in the Greek capital on Monday.

Earlier on Thursday, Reuters had quoted eurozone officials as saying that the troika envoys’ visit was being postponed due to a difference of opinion about Greece’s fiscal gap for next year; the troika puts it at 2 billion euros while Athens says it is 500 million euros.

“There are growing differences between Athens and the troika,” one eurozone official was quoted by Reuters as saying, adding that the planned trip was on hold. “The Greeks are saying: ‘We are doing enough,’ and the troika says they need new steps to close the budget,” he added.

“No one is going because no one wants them there,” a second eurozone official was quoted as saying of the foreign auditors.

But troika sources indicated to Kathimerini that the planned visit to Athens would go ahead as scheduled, conceding that the decision had not been an easy one to make.

Kathimerini understands that when rumors peaked on Wednesday night about a possible delay to the troika’s planned visit, Stournaras discussed the matter with the head of the Euro Working Group, Thomas Wieser, by telephone. They agreed it was best for the planned visit to go ahead to avoid stoking negative speculation about the progress of the Greek program, the sources said.

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