NEWS

Tsipras hopes for political boost from Merkel meeting

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to hold talks on Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande on the sidelines of a European Union leaders’ meeting in Riga in the hope that his counterparts will provide the political spur needed to help conclude negotiations between Greece and its lenders successfully.

Athens had hoped for Greece’s bailout talks to be included on the agenda for the two-day gathering in Latvia but the European Council declined the request as what is being held in Riga is an Eastern Partnership Summit, which will focus on issues relating to Eastern Europe.

Nevertheless, Tsipras is hoping that his meeting with Merkel and Hollande will result in some kind of political gesture that will help the pace and direction of deliberations with the institutions. The Greek leader is expected to tell his counterparts that his government has made as many concessions as it can and that the lenders now have to find a way to move closer to Greece. Sources said the premier will stress that the agreement will have to show that there has been a change in Greece’s policy mix.

The meeting will take place a day after Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he could not guarantee that Greece will not default. “I would have to think very hard before repeating this in the current situation,” he said in response to a question from The Wall Street Journal and French daily Les Echos about whether he would repeat an assurance he gave in 2012 that Greece would remain solvent.

In Athens, State Minister Alekos Flambouraris briefed SYRIZA’s political secretariat on the course of the negotiations with the institutions. Sources said that he told party members any agreement would include a lower fiscal target for this year and next, would not lead to public sector wages and pensions being cut, and would contain a reference to the need for Greece’s debt to be restructured. SYRIZA’s central committee is due to meet over the weekend for further deliberations about the talks.

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