Greek PM to call European officials in bid to create forward momentum

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to get on the phone over the weekend and speak to a number of euro-area leaders ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup after saying on Friday that Europe has to show strong political will for there to be an agreement between Greece and its lenders soon.

Tsipras is likely to urge his counterparts to agree that there should be a common statement at the end of Monday’s meeting, where Greece is likely to be represented by Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis as well as Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, establishing that there has been progress in the deliberations between Athens and the institutions.

Speaking in Parliament on Friday, Tsipras suggested that the agreement, which European officials believe is still some way off, would not come from just technical discussions but also needed input from euro-area politicians.

“I can assure you that the agreement is not dependent on any technical issue but only on political will,” he said. “It is the same political will that put Greece in the European Economic Community in 1980, when the European Commission was against it, and which put Greece in the single currency, when it did not fulfill the criteria.”

The prime minister said that a new display of political will was needed to show that Europe “tolerates democracy in the country where it was born.”

However, Athens’s hopes that the Eurogroup will officially confirm that Greece and its lenders are moving closer to a deal are not shared in Brussels.

“The organization and structure of the talks has improved, compared to what it was before, but we are still quite some way away from a situation that you could describe as a final agreement being well in sight,” said a senior eurozone official.

“I cannot exclude that ministers will issue a statement, but if it appears, it is likely to be anodyne, taking stock etc,” he added.

The Greek side feels that lenders keep adding more issues to the negotiations in the belief they can force the coalition to adopt extra measures. “They want something that hurts,” said an official close to the prime minister.

“We will do whatever we can to get an agreement that will give this government the ability to change whatever is wrong with this country,” said Tsipras.

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