Samaras, Stournaras to resume talks in Athens with the troika

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras are due to meet with troika representatives in Athens on Monday afternoon as Greece tries to thrash out a deal with its lenders over the 13.5-billion-euro austerity package demanded to secure the release of further bailout loans.

Stournaras is due to meet the officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund at 2 p.m. Samaras is scheduled to hold talks with them at 6 p.m.

Samaras spent Sunday evening in discussion with officials from 10 ministries over the issue of structural reforms, which are also on the agenda for talks with the troika.

Greece has tweaked the austerity package, which is now made up of about 10.5 billion euros in spending cuts and 3 billion euros in tax hikes, after it failed to agree with the troika over a week ago.

There are fears in the Greek government that the troika may draw out negotiations to give Greece?s EU partners and the IMF more time to decide how to tackle the Greek problem.

There have also been some positive noises coming from Europe, with the German magazine Focus citing European Parliament sources as saying that Greece is sure to receive a much awaited 31.5-billion-euro loan tranche despite its failure to make good on economic reforms.

Also in Germany, the Social Democratic Party?s candidate for chancellor in next year?s elections, Peer Steinbruck, called on Angela Merkel for the pressure on Greece to be eased.

?In the case of Greece, we cannot tighten the screws any further. The Greeks must stand by their commitments, but we must also give them more time,? he said.

?And the chancellor must finally tell the German people the truth: Greece will not be able to borrow money on the capital markets in the coming seven or eight years. We will have to help it until then,? he added.

It remains unclear when the troika will issue the crucial report on which the release of this funding depends.

In any case, government sources indicated to Kathimerini that a final agreement on the austerity package is unlikely before the end of this week, putting back the whole process.

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