Samaras and Venizelos to hold talks on Monday as troika delays visit

A failure to reach an agreement with the troika means that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his deputy, Evangelos Venizelos, will hold a fresh meeting on Monday to discuss how to remove the obstacles that are standing in the way of Greece’s lenders concluding their latest review of the country’s consolidation program.

The Finance Ministry confirmed Friday that the troika’s return to Athens has been put off, apparently scuppering any possibility of achieving an agreement on reforms ahead of the December 9 Eurogroup meeting.

“The government is in touch with the troika to set the most convenient date for their return so as to complete the prior actions and the current bailout review by the end of the year,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We cannot go to Athens again only for the review to be interrupted again,” a European official told Kathimerini. “This has already happened twice.”

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras briefed Samaras, who was at a European Union leaders’ summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, about the latest developments.

“We still have not reached an agreement today on several issues,” Stournaras told reporters. “The aim is to have this concluded by the end of the year,” he said.

The onus is now on Samaras and Venizelos to clarify the government’s position on several key issues on which no agreement has been reached with the troika. These include the future of Hellenic Defense Systems, legislation on mass dismissals and the lifting of the moratorium on home foreclosures.

PASOK has said it will not accept an end to the ban on foreclosures but the troika has linked this issue to the capital requirements of Greek banks, placing further pressure on the government to decide on what steps it will take.

Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Samaras is expected to meet on Saturday with Stournaras and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis to discuss the state of play.

On Wednesday, the Greek premier is due to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels. The purpose of the meeting is primarily to discuss Greece’s plans for the six-month rotating European Union presidency, which it assumes in January.

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