As next week’s Eurogroup meeting’s last chance to get more cash, ahead of the looming threat of a €780mm payments due to The IMF, rapidly approaches, the left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has forecast a “happy ending” to fraught negotiations on the cash-for-reforms deal. EU creditors are less enthusiastic, as Reuters reports, noting talks were making progress, though not enough for a deal next Monday. Tsipras promised to do “whatever it takes in order to reach… an honest and mutually beneficial agreement with our partners”, but gave no indication of yielding on the lenders’ core demands for painful reforms.
With Greece fast running out money, sources close to the talks with the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank said there wasstill no breakthrough on crucial sticking points over pension and labor market reforms and budget targets.
Tsipras, who has taken personal charge of the negotiations, told parliament in Athens: “I am confident that we will soon have a happy ending and that despite the difficulties… we will carry out the agreement which will be concluded soon in Europe.”
The leftist leader said his government was “doing whatever it should in order to reach … an honest and mutually beneficial agreement with our partners”, but gave no indication of yielding on the lenders’ core demands for painful reforms.
The government has said its “red lines” are that it will not make further pension cuts or legislate to ease layoffs in the private sector. It has given some ground on privatizations and value added tax but wide gaps remain.
In Rome, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Monday’s meeting of finance ministers of the currency area would not be decisive, but negotiations were moving forward. Greece’s partners would only consider debt relief once Athens committed to and completed its current bailout program, he said.