Monday, 15 June 2015

Down to the wire

The failure of weekend talks in Brussels between Greece and its creditors has now left Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting as perhaps the last possible opportunity for a deal before the country defaults.
Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras lashed out at creditors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and European Central Bank – on Sunday night, when talks broke up after an alleged mere 45 minutes.
“The institutions’ insistence on further cuts to pensions after five years of devastation wrought by memoranda can only be attributed to a political agenda,” he said.
‘Memoranda’ is a reference to the cash-for-austerity deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012.
“We carry the dignity of an entire people… we cannot bury democracy in the land where it was born,” he added.
Greece owes the International Monetary Fund 1.6bn euros on June 30. A European leaders’ summit on June 24-25 could act as a final stopgap for a deal, but some senior financial officials in Athens believe that European leaders will not do a political deal with Athens in the absence of a technical agreement that balances the country’s books this year.
Greece has resisted a reduction in pension payouts equal to one percent of GDP. It also refuses to raise consumer tax (VAT) by a similar amount, saying such measures will trigger renewed recession.
A team of senior Greek negotiators arrived in Brussels on Saturday to renew overtures after a failure to reach agreement on Thursday – one in a series of such failures.
“Despite the Greek representation’s continued presence in Brussels, there was no willingness by institutions to talk at a level of authority that would allow differences to be resolved,” said deputy prime minister Yannis Dragasakis, who is a member of the negotiating team.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker did not attend weekend talks in person, leaving deputies in his stead.

John Psaropoulos

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