Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said there are no more technical reasons to withhold aid from Greece with his officials locked in talks in a bid to break a 100-day impasse with the country’s creditors.
“The government has proved that it’s doing everything it can to reach an honest deal within the EU, an honest and mutually beneficial deal with its creditors,” Tsipras told lawmakers in Athens on Friday. “There’s no technical issue anymore for reaching this deal, there’s only a matter of political will.”
Euro-area finance ministers who meet in Brussels on Monday have signaled some progress in talks with Greece’s anti- austerity government, though not yet enough for them to release funds from the country’s 240 billion-euro ($269 billion) bailout program. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said a potential liquidity shortage in Greece would hasten the pace of negotiations.
Greek stocks rose for third day in Athens, with the benchmark index gaining 0.3 percent at 2:14 p.m. local time. The yield on 10-year bonds fell 16 basis points to 10.7 percent.
“Politically there is only one deadline — that’s end-June when the second plan will end,” Dijsselbloem, who also chairs meetings of the currency bloc’s finance ministers told French daily Le Monde on May 7. “But there could also be another deadline if Athens’ liquidity problems became too pressing. It’s in our common interest to avoid getting there.”
Greece has less than a week to prove to the European Central Bank that it’s serious about reaching an agreement with international lenders. Failure to make progress in bailout talks or repay about 745 million euros ($839 million) to the International Monetary Fund next week may prompt the central bank to impose tighter liquidity rules on its banks.
Both Tsipras and Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis have said that an agreement with creditors, which would pave the way for resuming aid flows and avert a default, is within reach. Tsipras has spoken twice this week by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I’m optimistic that we will soon have a happy ending and, despite the difficulties we will face, with the people’s support, we will manage to accomplish a deal,” Tsipras told Parliament on Friday.
Greece’s government has repeatedly expressed confidence a deal was imminent, only to be rebuffed by European officials seeking more specific policy proposals in areas including labor market deregulation, a pension-system overhaul, and sales tax reform. The standoff has led to an unprecedented flight of deposits from Greek banks and renewed concern over the country’s future in the single currency.
“Europe works in glacial ways and eventually does the right thing after trying all alternatives,” Varoufakis told the BBC on Thursday. “So we probably won’t have an agreement on Monday, but certainly we’re going to have an agreement in the next couple of weeks or so.”