Still no sign of troika return to Athens

Officials in Brussels say lack of prior action implementation means an agreement still appears a long way By Eleni Varvitsioti and Nikos Chrysoloras

The date for the troika’s return to Greece remains unknown according to a letter Eurogroup chief and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem sent to the parliament in The Hague, citing Athens’s failure to implement the prior actions for the completion of the fourth assessment of the adjustment program and the disbursement of the next tranche of bailout funding.

Only an agreement between the government and the troika of representatives from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund can allow the process for disbursement of the bailout funds to restart, the Dutch official stressed.

Commission Vice President Olli Rehn on Tuesday expressed hope that the troika can return to Athens as soon as possible, as, according to the latest formal briefing by the Commission, the aim is for the inspectors to return to Greece by the end of the month – i.e. right after the Eurogroup meeting next Monday.

However, one of the three troika heads told Kathimerini on Tuesday that the fronts remain open, so it remains unknown whether Greece will form part of the agenda of next week’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels. The same official added that the progress of Greece’s assessment will definitely be requested formally or informally, and that it is certain the usual advice and guidelines will be issued by Dijsselbloem and Rehn regarding the need for Athens to comply with its commitments according to the bailout agreement.

That was the atmosphere at Tuesday’s meeting of the Euro Working Group (EWG), with the eurozone technocrats making no secret of their displeasure with the dramatic delay in the assessment process that should have started last September. An official who is closely following the execution of the streamlining program told Kathimerini that the troika’s impression last fall when the assessment started was that Greece was not prepared at all, resulting in consecutive missions to Athens ending in failure. The burning issues remain unresolved and it is clear there is no reason for talks to resume unless a result is certain.