Tsipras to address Parliament as Brussels official rules out April deal


At at a time of increasing government jitters over the delays in wrapping up negotiations with the country’s international creditors, Alexis Tsipras is expected to use Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament on Friday to present an update on the course and content of the talks, and a time frame for their conclusion.

Tsipras’s deliberations in Parliament will come as it becomes increasingly clear that any further delays in the bid to complete the review of the country’s third bailout will increase uncertainty and lay the groundwork for scenarios of doom, which could negatively impact the course of the negotiations, and further undermine the prospects of economic recovery.

A point in case is that the government on Friday scrambled to dismiss speculation that spread like wildfire in the local media – and picked up by Reuters – that Tsipras was about to address the nation to announce early elections after an alleged bust-up with creditors.

The prime minister’s office issued a scathing statement against Reuters, accusing it of publishing “fake news” from unreliable sources.

Meanwhile on Friday, an EU official in Brussels dashed the government’s hopes that the contentious issue of labor reforms will be deferred until the country’s next review, by insisting that current negotiations will not be concluded without changes to labor laws.

The bid to defer the labor issues until the third review, he said, “is out of touch with reality.”

Speaking to reporters, he also confirmed the assessment by Kathimerini that, contrary to the government’s expectations, there is not enough time in April to reach a comprehensive settlement that will include the participation of the International Monetary Fund and a deal on the midterm debt relief measures.

The official cited the Easter holidays and the IMF’s spring meeting in Washington on April 21-23 as the main reasons for the delay, as well as differences on various issues including the measures the government needs to implement to achieve a 3.5 percent surplus in 2019.

But despite the EU official’s deflating remarks with regard to an April deal, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos appeared to be on a different wavelength on Friday, saying that a deal could be clinched by the April 7 Eurogroup.