IMF pledges support in Athens’s next steps

The International Monetary Fund will assist Athens’s project of disengagement from international funding, said Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis after his meeting with the IMG managing director, Christine Lagarde in Washington on Sunday.

“The IMF will be of assistance to the Greek effort in what we are trying to achieve,” Hardouvelis said after the half-hour meeting in the US capital.

According to a Fund statement on Sunday, talks focused on “the progress noted in the context of the program and the possible next steps.”

Lagarde asked for the efficient implementation of the crucial structural reforms included in the Greek streamlining program, and congratulated the Greek government on its significant fiscal progress. She also reiterated the Fund’s pledge to support Greece to continue meeting the targets of the program.

According to sources, Lagarde placed particular emphasis on the need for reforms to continue and to be promoted as the achievement of the Greek people, which Hardouvelis also stressed.

Speaking straight after the meeting, the Greek minister said “we had an interesting discussion. Mrs Lagarde congratulated us on the very big progress our country has made in the last few years.

“She recommended that we continue the reforms, and that these reforms take place in such a way as to be owned by the Greek people and to be continued, we should not backtrack. The IMF will assist the Greek effort in what we are now trying to achieve,” said Hardouvelis.

According to a top government official, the IMF is positive toward the evolution of its relationship with Greece because it believes in the Greek progress, although he added that talks have only just begun.

He noted that this is a major national effort that has many parties involved, including Greece’s European peers, while “all options are on the table,” as he said.

The government looks forward to the cooperation and consent of all sides to a smooth return to the markets, as they “do not like uncertainty” but “want a clear landscape, a clear solution. At the end of the day we want everyone to be happy.”

Greek sources stressed that the IMF also wants to be credited with a Greek success. As one of them pointed out, “we feel that the IMF is on our side, understands our positions and is trying to help.”

Regarding the terms of the period after the end of the funding program, government officials said they will not be the same as those nowadays and any support will not have the form of a bailout agreement.

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