BUSINESS

Greece on Brussels dinner menu

SOTIRIS NIKAS

TAGS: Finance

The eurozone and the International Monetary Fund are on Wednesday night to make another effort to reach some convergence on the matter Greece, with Athens awaiting the result of that discussion for the bailout review to resume.

Sources say that representatives of the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank will probably meet for dinner on Wednesday night in a bid to narrow their differences on negotiations with the Greek government, following a clash of opinion at Monday’s Euro Working Group meeting.

In this context, a report by Bloomberg on Tuesday pointing to a softening of Germany’s stance on Greek pension reforms obtained more significance: The news agency cited a source in Berlin as saying that Germany is prepared to be more flexible on the social security issue and would be satisfied with a combination of measures that would ensure the sustainability of the pension system, although until now Berlin asked Greece for pension cuts.

Participants at Wednesday’s dinner in Brussels will likely include the head of the IMF’s European department, Poul Thomsen, and his counterparts from the other creditors. Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos will also be in Brussels to address the European Parliament, but ministry officials said there were no plans for him to attend the dinner.

Sources informed of the discussions at Monday’s Euro Working Group said IMF representative Delia Velculescu insisted on the fund’s hard stance, reiterating the estimate for a fiscal gap between 7.5 and 9 billion euros up to 2018. She also asked for significant cuts to pensions. The Romanian official received criticism from representatives of several eurozone members, while Greece’s Alternate Finance Minister Giorgos Houliarakis reportedly had a fiery dialogue with her on the fund’s positions.

After Wednesday’s dinner the next crucial date will be Monday’s Eurogroup meeting. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, meanwhile, said in a televised interview early on Tuesday that he anticipates the creditors’ representatives to have returned to Athens by March 10.

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