Inauspicious start to troika’s Finance Ministry meeting

A visit by the troika of foreign lenders to the Finance Ministry in central Athens on Tuesday got off to an inauspicious start as one of the three envoys from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund accidentally tipped over a motorcyclist trying to squeeze past the envoys’ car on narrow Nikis Street when opening the vehicle’s door. The motorist was not injured, but the incident provoked disparaging remarks from a few dozen protesters gathered nearby.

The troika officials are meeting with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras for tough negotiations amid concerns that the two sides remain far from an agreement on key issues ahead of a eurozone finance ministers summit on Thursday and the scheduled submission in Parliament next week of Greece’s 2014 budget.

Stournaras is to have two meetings with the troika chiefs on Tuesday – one at noon that is to involve Bank of Greece officials and is to focus on plans to lift a ban on foreclosures and a second meeting in the afternoon that is to address a dispute between the two sides over the country’s budget gap for next year.

The noon meeting also includes the participation of Development Minister Costis Hadzidakis for the discussion on foreclosures.

There was a strong police presence around the ministry as dozens of cleaning ladies had gathered to protest their being let go from the Finance Ministry.

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