Athens sees deal close but Berlin remains skeptical

Athens sees deal close but Berlin remains skeptical

Talks between the Greek government and its lenders’ representatives are due to continue in Athens on Saturday amid a divergence of opinion within the eurozone about whether there can be an agreement in the next few days, leaving enough time for Greece to receive funding by August 20.

“We are progressing normally in the negotiations with the lenders,” said Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis after a cabinet meeting. “From our side, we are almost ready. There are some issues that are being examined but they are not obstacles.”

Greece is expected to receive a draft of the agreement on the country’s third bailout and there are hopes that the final version can be voted through Parliament by Thursday, allowing enough time for other eurozone parliaments to approve it and for funds to be disbursed before Athens has to redeem a 3.2-billion-euro bond held by the European Central Bank on August 20.

Members of the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC), which comprises deputy finance ministers from all 28 EU member-states, were due to confer last Friday on the progress in the talks between Greece and its lenders. European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said she did not expect “any particular decisions” from Friday night’s meeting although negotiations had begun on drafting a memorandum of understanding on a loan agreement.

Germany is reportedly skeptical about whether a swift settlement can be reached. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said the German Finance Ministry favors another bridge loan to give Greece and its creditors time to negotiate a comprehensive reform program. The ministry says a range of issues remain to be settled, “especially around future conditionality,” including macroeconomic and budget targets.

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