Athens, May 4, 2016/ Independent Balkan News Agency
By Zacharias Petrou
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called emergency meetings with key ministers on Tuesday in preparation for the crucial May 9 Eurogroup meeting that could determine the future of the country’s stalled bailout program review.
Tsipras met with deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos to finalize the Greek stance as more talks are expected to follow in coming days leading up to the Eurogroup meeting. Athens will try to forge alliances with key players as it tries to avoid implementing a set of additional austerity measures the International Monetary Fund says are needed if the review of the bailout program is to be successfully concluded.
The Greek government wants an automatic mechanism agreed for cutting state spending only when budget targets are missed. Technical talks between Athens and Greece’s creditors continue over this proposal but the IMF has so far seemed reluctant to back down from its demands. Sources told Reuters this week progress was slow and a deal was unlikely at the May 9 Eurogroup session.
Alexis Tsipras hopes European allies – who have been more sympathetic towards Greece on this issue – will help convinve the IMF that its plans for additional measures to be legislated are counterproductive. To this end, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos is expected to hold talks with representatives of some of his eurozone counterparts, including Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Tsipras himself is also keen on holding high-level political talks himself this week, according to government sources.
European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday urged Finance Ministers “to reach an agreement very soon and I hope that by the end of May […] the implementation of Greece’s programme is positively assessed.”
Meanwhile, credit ratings agency Moody’s has described delays in the completion of the first review of Greece’s third bailout program as “credit negative,” estimating that the talks could go on until July.
Moody’s argued that the main obstacles to reaching an agreement concern the requirements of the International Monetary Fund regarding the national debt and lower primary surplus targets, and the differences between Athens and its creditors over key areas of the bailout deal.