Athens did not appear particularly troubled Monday by what has been viewed as the tough stance of new German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz during his meeting last week with his Greek counterpart Euclid Tsakalotos.
Despite their cordial meeting, Scholz made it clear that debt relief will only be discussed after Greece’s bailout program ends, while he also reiterated to Sunday’s issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that aid to Greece goes hand in hand with reforms.
However, according to Greek estimates, Greece’s partners and creditors do not want to see the country derailed from its course leading out of the bailout programs.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras hopes to hammer the point home Tuesday during his visit to the islands of Rhodes and Kastellorizo that Greece is back on the road to recovery. And with Greece heading for an exit from its third bailout in the summer, the government believes that Kastellorizo has a symbolic significance as it is where former PM George Papandreou announced in 2010 that Greece would get its first rescue program.
The government also believes that Scholz is being tough with regard to the measures Greece must take in the post-bailout era and the issue of debt relief because the yardstick of comparison on the domestic front is his unwavering predecessor Wolfgang Schaeuble.
Meanwhile, in response to the reaction of Greece’s creditors to the country’s post-bailout era growth plan – submitted at last week’s Euro Working Group – government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Monday that he expects talks on the matter to be concluded at the April 27 Eurogroup. “There are no strategic differences,” he said.
The government is also expecting the outcome of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund on April 20-22 in Washington. Athens hopes that the Washington-based IMF will clarify its position with regard to the Greek program and that a clearer picture emerges on the subject of Greek debt relief.