Athens expects lenders to conclude first bailout review
ATHENS - BRUSSELSFeb 10, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Feb 10, 2016 12:00 am
Greece and its official lenders must conclude a first assessment of the country's compliance with agreed reforms as fast as possible, the government's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Similar intentions were echoed in Brussels, although differences remain on policy.
Talks between mission chiefs from the European Union, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, the euro zone's bailout fund and the government over a tough pension reform plan and fiscal targets took a break on Friday after four days of meetings.
A positive review is crucial for Greece to continue to receive bailout aid and avoid a return to last year's crisis, which brought it close to crashing out of the euro zone.
Greece expects the review to resume next week and be concluded by the end of this month to open the way for long-awaited talks on rendering its debt more manageable in the future. "The government's position is that the whole procedure must be wrapped up the soonest possible because neither Greece nor Europe have time to lose," Olga Gerovasili told a regular weekly briefing of reporters. "The ball is now on the lenders' court and they should have a constructive stance." In Brussels, an EU official said discussions had gone fairly well but although both sides were on a converging path differences remained. "Obviously quality goes before speed. But we are hoping for a successful conclusion in a fairly near term," the official said. "There is hardly anybody who does not hope that the review can be finalised fairly rapidly." There are concerns that the review might stumble as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose coalition government hinges on a slim three-seat majority, faces stiff resistance by several professional groups, including lawyers and farmers. Greek stocks plunged about 8 percent on Monday on worries that the bailout review had hit a snag. Selling pressure continued on Tuesday with shares shedding 3.5 percent.Farmers blocked motorways with their tractors for a fourth week on Tuesday, obstructing traffic at a few crossings on the country's northern borders with Bulgaria and Turkey and were due to shift their action to central Athens on Feb. 12. Gerovasili said the government wanted "an open and sincere dialogue" with them to find the best possible solutions. The EU official said progress had been made on the pension reform front but there were still issues to be resolved.
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Research Associate at Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University