After securing an agreement with representatives of Greece’s international creditors on Tuesday, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras must now consider how to push the deal through Parliament as efficiently as possible amid opposition at home and abroad.
The deal appeared to be all but done on Tuesday, following 20 hours of talks, with Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos noting that just a few details remained to be resolved. A European Commission official acknowledged that a deal had been reached but at the “technical,” not the political, level.
Top finance ministry officials from the 28 member states of the European Union on Tuesday discussed by teleconference the content of the agreement, which was widely leaked in the media and by Greek government sources but had yet to be officially presented by late Tuesday night.
Their initial assessment was said to be positive and they were to continue their discussions today ahead of a likely summit of eurozone finance ministers on Friday. Assuming the Eurogroup goes ahead, the Greek government’s greatest concern is that German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will reiterate his opposition to a deal and insist that Greece should instead be granted a bridge loan, so it can meet a 3.2-billion-euro debt repayment to the European Central Bank on August 20.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel struck a similar tone in a telephone call with Tsipras on Tuesday, according to an aide close to the Greek premier. Merkel told Tsipras that Germany is “skeptical” about the agreement and proposed a bridge loan instead of a full agreement, which she suggested required more detailed discussion, the official said.
Tsipras responded that the agreement has the backing of Greece’s creditors and cannot be reversed now, according to the aide. The Greek premier had also talked to Merkel on Monday, when he also spoke with French President Francois Hollande and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who are said to have been very supportive of the Greek agreement.
Berlin’s differentiation appears to be a reflection of Schaeuble’s hard stance vis-a-vis Greece but also Merkel’s concerns about the impact on her party when the deal goes to the Bundestag after 65 of CDU/CSU MPs broke ranks with her in the last vote on Greece.
Back in Athens, government officials sought to cast the agreement in a positive light, claiming that it reduced the prospect of further austerity, specifically that it would avoid austerity measures worth around 20 billion euros over the next three years. Officials played up the fact that the deal secures funding for Greece to repay its debts and recapitalize cash-strapped banks.