Uncertainty over return of creditors to Athens

Uncertainty over return of creditors to Athens

A spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters on Thursday that the exact date Greece’s creditors will return to Athens to resume direct talks over the ongoing review of the bailout program is unknown.

In the first press conference of 2017, European Commission spokesperson for Financial Services, Taxation and Customs, Vanessa Mock, said the Commission remains focused on reaching an agreement to conclude the second review as soon as possible. However, she added that this is not entirely in the hands of the EC but all stakeholders, before adding that she had no information as to when direct talks will resume.

In any case, Mock said Eurozone Finance Ministers will have a chance to take stock of progress made so far in the review during the Eurogroup meeting scheduled for 26 January.

Local reports emerged earlier this week suggesting the Greek government may be tempted to delay wrapping up the ongoing review of the bailout program till at least March in hope of ousting the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from the program.

According to these reports, government officials are contemplating allowing talks to drag on, hoping incoming US President Donald Trump will intervene to pull the IMF out of the Greek program, leaving Greece and its Eurozone partners to solve the current impasse.

Government sources hint an agreement to conclude the review may not be in place by the 20 February Eurogroup meeting. However, the official line currently is that the Prime Minister himself is determined to explore all options in order to arrive at a compromise to wrap up the review.

The public row between the IMF and Berlin the fiscal targets Greece must achieve in the short and longer term, as well as disagreement over the scope of debt relief the country should be granted has complicated the review, analysts point out.

“Greece again will have a difficult year ahead because we will have further negotiations with other euro zone countries,” Vincenzo Scarpetta, senior policy analyst at Open Europe told CNBC. “The big elephant in the room remains the issue of debt relief with Germany very unlikely, I would say, to make concessions in an election year./ΙΒΝΑ