As the government scrambles to put a positive spin on prospects despite its failure to secure concessions from creditors, a French initiative is under way to restore market access for Greece.
With just a few days to go before Thursday’s crucial Eurogroup, French officials are seeking to propel negotiations forward with the aim of achieving three key goals: putting Greece back on the road to tapping capital markets, convincing the European Central Bank to accept Greek bonds in its quantitative easing program, and offering the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras a stronger narrative as, despite its legislation of new austerity measures, it has yet to receive something meaningful in return.
According to sources, the French proposal foresees linking Greece’s growth rate to debt relief.
New French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire is in Athens today for an official visit aimed at underlining his country’s support for a swift solution to Greece’s debt problem.
In an exclusive statement to Kathimerini’s Paris correspondent Alexia Kefalas, Le Maire said the aim of his visit to Athens is to “facilitate the negotiations so there is an agreement this coming Thursday which will offer Greece prospects for stability and growth.”
After meeting with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Monday, Le Maire is scheduled to dine with Tsipras and then meet Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras before flying back to Paris.
The optimism of French and Greek officials, however, does not appear to be shared by many in Brussels.
One European official told Kathimerini that the proposal reportedly being prepared by the French is “interesting but not enough that it will change the state of play.”
“The proposal made in May pushed every side to their limits and still wasn’t enough for the IMF,” one European official said, referring to the last Eurogroup summit in May when the International Monetary Fund stood its ground on the need for concrete debt relief for Greece.
According to sources, Tsipras is taking strategy advice from government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos and close aide Nikos Pappas rather than Tsakalotos, who is perceived as having excessively highlighted the need for debt relief, putting the premier in a difficult spot.