NEWS

Greek PM to meet key leaders on fringe of summit in Brussels

With Greece rapidly running out of funds, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has proposed an urgent meeting on the sidelines of the European Union summit that begins on Thursday in a bid to reach an agreement that would allow Athens to get more funds. Greece urgently needs between 3 and 5 billion euros. Tsipras on Tuesday telephoned European Council President Donald Tusk and asked him to convene a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The meeting will be held on Friday morning, despite the fact that European officials questioned its use. Sources in Brussels said the proposal was a mistake, as it focused on meeting with the leaders of two countries, and the heads of the ECB and the Commission, rather than pursuing a collective agreement in the EU, and it was not clear what Tsipras wanted to achieve. If the aim was to achieve more funding, this would have to be the subject of technical discussions between experts and could not be dealt with at the political level.

However, with teams of experts still unable to reach a conclusion as to Greece’s financing needs and its compliance with the bailout agreement, agreement at the political level is precisely what Tsipras is after. He wants an agreement on a framework that will set out what Greece must do in order to get the ECB to allow his country to borrow more, a source in Tsipras’s office told Kathimerini. Tsipras is prepared to accept reforms that will be proposed by Greece’s partners, including privatization, the same source said. They stressed that Athens would draw the line at adopting further austerity measures. “We accept everything else, on the basis of the commitments made in [Finance Minister] Yanis Varoufakis’s letter to the Eurogroup,” the source added.

The Greek prime minister is to meet the German chancellor in Berlin on March 23, following an invitation from Merkel on Monday.