NEWS

Athens eyes decision on aid, debt at Eurogroup

TAGS: Diplomacy, Economy

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is to meet his eurozone counterparts in Brussels on Monday for talks that, Athens hopes, will lead to the release of crucial bailout loans and a decision to relieve Greece’s debt.

Over the weekend, representatives of Greece’s lenders pored over the legislation detailing a barrage of new austerity measures that the government voted into law late on Thursday.

They are expected to present a report to officials in Brussels on Monday, determining the extent to which Athens has complied with creditors’ demands. 

Though government officials sought to be upbeat in their public statements, European officials indicated in comments to Kathimerini that the outcome of the Eurogroup meeting could not be predicted.

“Everything is basically unresolved, until it has been agreed, all together, at the last minute,” one official said.

According to sources, the basic obstacle to an overall agreement on Greece’s debt is the continuing disagreement between European officials and representatives of the International Monetary Fund over how the Greek economy is likely to perform over the next few years.

While European officials suggested there was only a 50/50 chance of an agreement on the debt being reached in Brussels on Monday, government sources suggested the odds were better but only slightly, standing at around 60/40.

In a move that caused little surprise, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble repeated over the weekend that Berlin remained opposed to extending debt relief to Greece, something the IMF has set as a precondition to secure its backing for the country’s third bailout.

In comments on Saturday, the leader of Greece’s main conservative opposition party New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accused the government of “trapping the country in a situation of constant austerity.”

“Mr Tsipras had his chance and he missed it,” Mitsotakis said about leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“No one believes any more that he is the politician and the prime minister that will lead the country out of the crisis,” Mitsotakis said from the Saronic island of Aegina, where New Democracy opened new offices.

“On the contrary, he is putting us deeper into the crisis, deeper into the memorandums.”

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