NEWS

Gov’t braces for talks with creditors amid upheaval in SYRIZA

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Even as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras grapples with serious divisions within SYRIZA, government officials are bracing for the launch of face-to-face negotiations with representatives of the country’s creditors which are expected to begin next week.

The government is hoping to seal a deal with creditors by mid-August and certainly before August 20 when a 3.2-billion-euro debt repayment to the European Central Bank is to come due. Greece does not have the money to repay the debt and is hoping for a deal to be reached, allowing the partial disbursement of some funding, either from a new program or from residual funding from the recapitalization of Greek banks.

But sources indicate that creditors are less optimistic about a deal being finalized so soon. As a result officials are said to be considering the possibility of a second bridge loan to Greece, which would allow it to cover the ECB debt and other obligations, before an agreement on a third bailout is finalized.

Although officials from countries that have taken a hard line opposite Greece, including Germany and some north European states, reportedly want Athens to commit to more prior actions, European Economy and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has indicated that this will not be necessary.

Creditors are expected to seek additional measures at some point, however, to plug a widening fiscal gap.
Tsipras is also struggling to keep a lid on dissent within SYRIZA as a bloc of around 30 of the party’s 149 MPs object to his compromise with creditors, which foresees more austerity.

The premier has indicated that a party congress should be held in September to refocus SYRIZA. Early elections, which are considered inevitable in view of the upheaval within the party, are expected to take place immediately after the congress, either later in September or in October or even November. In comments on Saturday, State Minister Nikos Pappas acknowledged that the country cannot continue indefinitely with a minority government, referring to the mass defections by SYRIZA MPs in recent parliamentary votes.

A meeting of SYRIZA’s political secretariat is due on Monday.