Greece, creditors racing towards bailout talks finish line

Greece, creditors racing towards bailout talks finish line

Athens, August 10, 2015/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Zacharias Petrou

The Greek government edged closer to sealing a deal on the country’s EUR 86 billion bailout agreement and the memorandum of understanding that will accompany it.

Talks with the quartet of institutions representing Greece’s creditors progressed over Saturday and Sunday. According to Greek government officials talking to international news agencies, a deal could be sealed before August 20 when a debt payment to the European Central Bank comes due.

Greek government officials discussed a draft of the country’s third bailout agreement drawn up on the basis of discussions with EU/IMF lenders, a government official told Reuters.

The talks on Saturday focused on the so-called “prior actions” Greece must legislate to qualify for loans, and the two sides reached agreement on the issue, a senior government official said.

“The agreement will be concluded comfortably before Aug.18,” the official said.

Some of the issues discussed include changes to farmers’ taxation, scrapping nuisance taxes, liberalization of specific markets, deregulating a series of professions and allowing Sunday trading.

Reports in the Greek press suggest that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is determined to call an early election soon after the bailout deal is agreed with creditors and ratified by Greek and European parliaments. Talks could be wrapped up by Tuesday or Wednesday and the agreement could be brought to Greek parliament even by August 14.

Greece’s main opposition New Democracy party leader Evangelos Meimarakis appeared to be preparing the conservatives for an early election. Meimarakis has told Kathimerini newspaper in an interview that his party will neither disband nor join forces with other opposition groupings to form a pro-European front in possible snap elections.