Unable to break a logjam with its international lenders over hundreds of unfinished reforms, Greek officials will trek to Paris for the second time this year in hopes of reaching agreement on a deal to keep loan monies coming and lead to an early exit from the terms of two bailouts.
The surprise meeting, set for Nov. 25, was arranged in a bid to find common ground to get the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) to return to Athens and finish its review before a Dec. 8 meeting of the Eurozone.
Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras wants that done so that he can seek an early exit from the conditions of 240 billion euros ($306 billion) in two rescue packages that came with attached harsh austerity measures he imposed after opposing them while out of office.
The Troika wants more critical changes, including further cuts in pensions that Samaras wants to avoid with polls showing the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) pulling away as it aims to block the election of a Greek President in February, 2015 to force early national elections.
There was no explanation why Greek officials, as the country is cutting expenses, are taking the junket to Paris instead of holding the talks in Athens at no cost. In September, a Greek team led by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis spent several days in the French capital in talks with the Troika, saying it was to avoid anti-austerity protests in Athens.
Defying the Troika, Samaras sent his 2015 proposed budget to Parliament, which is set to vote on Dec. 8 even though the lenders didn’t sign off on it and have said there’s a budget gap of up to three billion euros, which the government rejects.
Samaras wants to get out from under the thumb of the Troika. The EU monies run out this year but IMF loans are set to keep coming into 2016, when the next national elections are scheduled. He wants approval for a precautionary credit line as a buffer, with the monies due to come from bailout funds originally designed for bank recapitalization.