NEWS

Finance Ministry officials to discuss talks progress as EU pushes for action

After several days of talks between representatives of Greece’s government and its creditors in Brussels on a proposed list of economic reforms, eurozone finance ministry officials are to discuss progress and the prospects for a deal during a teleconference call on Wednesday.

Greek sources claimed that “significant progress” was made in the Brussels talks. But European officials have indicated otherwise, insisting that much remains to be done, and quickly if crucial rescue loans are to be unlocked.

European Council President Donald Tusk conceded on Tuesday that the talks are “complex” but said he hoped an agreement could be reached by the end of April.

“For me it is possible,” he said during a visit to Madrid.

Meanwhile German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the need for Greece to honor its commitments and not lose valuable time. “I said recently that time is of the essence – that means there is no time to lose so I think we need to continue working,” she told a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande in Berlin. Hollande struck a similar tone, stressing that rescue loans cannot be released without progress and the creditors’ approval.

The ongoing negotiations are taking place against a backdrop of rising political tension in Greece. Monday night’s parliamentary debate, called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, ended in acrimony as New Democracy walked out in dispute over Parliament Speaker Zoe Constantopoulou’s handling of the discussion. The SYRIZA MP was also on the receiving end of heavy criticism from To Potami and PASOK.

Only a few hours afterward, SYRIZA’s parliamentary group decided to go ahead with the party’s election pledge to call for MPs to investigate the circumstances in which Greece’s two bailouts were signed. The leftist lawmakers will ask for the inquiry to examine the period stretching from May 2010, when the first memorandum of understanding was signed with lenders, right up to the present day.

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos said that if a parliamentary investigation is held it should examine the handling of the country’s economy and public finances since 2004, when New Democracy came to power. SYRIZA sources suggested that the request for the inquiry would not be submitted until after Orthodox Easter.