Friday November 28, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
8o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Greece's euro fate hangs over Merkel-Hollande meet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will try to present a united front when they meet Thursday ahead of a fateful few weeks for Greece's eurozone future.

As leaders of the bloc's top two economies, the pair carry the weight of expectations that they will drive decisive action to remedy the near three-year crisis, despite their differences.

The timing of the evening summit in the German capital is no coincidence -- Merkel will host the Greek prime minister in Berlin less than 24 hours later before he meets Hollande in Paris Saturday.

Antonis Samaras will reportedly try to persuade his European partners to extend a deadline for swingeing spending cuts to keep Greece in the 17-nation eurozone after first meeting Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday.

Germany, Europe's effective paymaster, has insisted Athens must stick to the timeline and reforms agreed in return for its second rescue package, while France is seen as more flexible.

"The aim is to discuss flexibility in return for assurances and the two want to have a common line before the arrival of the Greek prime minister,» Claire Demesmay, of the German Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP.

Ulrike Guerot, a political scientist at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said the meeting would be closely watched ahead of key decisions next month.

"The markets want to know if visions are the same in Berlin and Paris,» she said.

Greece, scrambling to find about 11.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) through drastic cuts and reforms in its fifth year of recession, is avidly awaiting a progress report by its international creditors, meanwhile.

The verdict, due in September, by the so-called Troika -- European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank -- will determine whether Athens gets the next slice of its bailout.

Without the funds -- worth some 31.5 billion euros -- Greece's government is expected to quickly run out of cash and face a default that many analysts believe would force it to leave the eurozone.

Before this week's diplomatic flurry, Athens said it only had 700 million of the 11.5 billion euros of cuts still to find, with a report it would argue for spreading them over four years, from 2013, instead of two.

Berlin has played down expectations of Merkel's meetings with both Hollande and Samaras saying no «significant decisions» or «strong positions» were expected to emerge.

"The basis for all decisions in the case of Greece is the report of the troika,» Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Their discussions over dinner will also cover Syria, he said.

Paris sees the meeting as a chance to forge common ground on the Greek crisis, which continues to undermine the credibility of the euro, well-informed sources said.

But France also wants to hear from Samaras what progress Athens has made in terms of reforms demanded by the creditors.

Relations between Hollande, a socialist, and Merkel, a conservative Christian Democrat, got off to a rocky start with the chancellor's insistence on austerity to fight the euro crisis at odds with the president's emphasis on more growth.

But Demesmay said she believed Hollande would now be less on the offensive, having notched up a few successes, notably an EU accord on growth measures.

At home, both have returned from the summer break to face a challenging 12 months.

Elected on a mandate to boost jobs and growth, the French government has to find 33 billion euros' worth of public spending savings amid flat growth and rising unemployment.

Merkel, for her part, is entering the countdown to elections, to be held by end-October 2013, with little public appetite to grant Greece yet more aid and a debate raging on the crisis that makes daily headlines.

Volker Kauder, parliamentary head of Merkel's party, has warned Greece has «no room for manoeuvre» on the timing or substance of its agreement but has also said that Europe should strive to keep Greece in the eurozone.

But in an interview with German daily Bild on Wednesday Samaras again called for more time to make spending cuts and reforms.

"All that we want is a little 'breathing space' to revive the economy quickly and raise state income. More time does not automatically mean more money,» Samaras told Europe's most widely-read paper.

"Let me be very clear. We are not asking for additional money. We are sticking by our commitments and are meeting all our requirements,» said Samaras.

"We need to get out of this negative psychology, which is like a black hole. Greeks have voted for a new government to put the country on a new course,» he insisted.

"We are making progress in structural reforms and privatisations. And it is not fair when some people in Europe want to keep pushing us back into this hole.» [AFP]

ekathimerini.com , Wednesday August 22, 2012 (15:00)  
Seven PASOK MPs voice support for party leader
New law could transfer control of unused buildings
Greece set to accept continued role for IMF
Independent Greeks MP claims bribe attempt
PPC profits power up in Jan-Sept
Public Power Corporation’s impressive profits in the first nine months of 2014 create significant scope for a reduction in electricity rates and are the result of a cut in spending on fuel a...
Papastratos banking on exports
Leading tobacco firm Papastratos on Wednesday announced that a planned investment of 25 million euros in the transformation of the company’s factory into an exporting center is in the works....
Inside Business
SOCCER
PAOK is one win from Europa League´s last 32
A late brace by Stefanos Athanasiadis gifted PAOK a precious win at Dynamo Minsk on Thursday, meaning that the Thessaloniki team is one win away from graduating from the group stage of the E...
BASKETBALL
First defeat for Olympiakos in Euroleague
Olympiakos suffered its first Euroleague loss of the season going down 89-70 at Laboral Kutxa on Thursday, although the Greek team remains the favorite to clinch the top spot in its pool. Th...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
The presidential election paradox
A few days ago, speaking with a visiting colleague who neither works in Europe nor covers events here, I suddenly felt how much we Greeks take for granted some things that should have worrie...
COMMENTARY
Scraping together the 180 MPs will not be enough
Even if the coalition government was to scrape together the 180-MP majority it needs to elect a new President in the 300-seat House, skeptics say, what will change really? There is one evide...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. PAOK is one win from Europa League´s last 32
2. First defeat for Olympiakos in Euroleague
3. PPC profits power up in Jan-Sept
4. Papastratos banking on exports
5. Saudi group Olayan to enter Costa Navarino
6. Bank-financed property transactions rise a notch
more news
Today
This Week
1. Greece paralyzed by major strike, flights cancelled
2. Greek diplomat dies in fall under Thai train
3. Greece scrambles to find food, shelter for 700 migrants on crippled ship
4. Chief suspect in Piraeus bar shooting arrested
5. Scraping together the 180 MPs will not be enough
6. Troika talks to continue after failure to wrap up negotiations in Paris
Today
This Week
1. Give Greece a chance
2. Scientists expand excavation of ancient Amphipolis
3. Extremism from a bygone era
4. Greece paralyzed by major strike, flights cancelled
5. Piraeus nightclub shooting leaves 3 seriously injured
6. Cosco’s Greek unit adds multinational rail-freight client
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.