Tsipras takes time on reshuffle, as Eurogroup clears way for third bailout


Eurozone finance ministers agreed “in principle” Thursday to launch a discussion for a third Greek bailout as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delayed an expected reshuffle, possibly to give him more time to make widespread changes to his government.

“The Eurogroup welcomes the adoption by the Greek Parliament of all the commitments specified in the Euro Summit statement of 12 July,” the Eurogroup said in a statement after a conference call during which finance ministers discussed the prior actions, including pension reform, voted through Parliament early Thursday.

The statement did not make any reference to the bridge financing that Greece needs to make payments to the European Central Bank and others next week, before it starts talks on a new package.

However, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem told an emergency session of the Dutch Parliament that eurozone finance ministers are seeking 7 billion euros of bridge financing for Greece from the European Financial Stability Fund from which Greece will be able to pay back its arrears to the International Monetary Fund and be able to cover the 3.5-billion-euro bond held by the ECB, which matures on Monday.

Tsipras met Thursday with a number of key advisers to discuss how best to respond to the failure of 39 SYRIZA MPs to vote for the prior actions passed through Parliament in the early hours of the morning as part of the government’s bailout agreement with lenders.

The prime minister is certain to replace the five ministers who voted against the measures but by last night did not appear to have taken a decision on whether his reshuffle would be limited to just these positions or whether he would announce more sweeping changes in his cabinet.

It is thought that if Tsipras does not announce a new cabinet Friday, he will do so next week after a second set of reforms demanded by the institutions is due to be passed through Parliament. If the reshuffle is delayed a few more days, it is expected the prime minister will use this time to ring a number of changes to government personnel.

The option of delaying the reshuffle means that Tsipras would avoid stoking tension within SYRIZA ahead of the next vote and would give the premier more time to seek suitable candidates for government posts, possibly from outside the political arena.