Greece has cried “Deal!” so often that people don’t believe it anymore and are tuning out, but this could be the big showdown finally, world press reports say.
Greece: A Clod of Earth Worth Saving?
4 News – Paul Mason
When prime ministers write articles they tend to be, like Tony Blair’s old speeches, full of soundbites designed to obfuscate meaning. But Alexis Tsipras is fighting for his political future.
Last week the Greeks thought they were tacitly offered a deal whereby, in return for some further concessions on austerity, they would get a much bigger long-term debt restructuring: a single deal placing common conditions on both the urgent and the long-term lending conditions. But they now fear that offer is unravelling.
The radical left government now faces being offered simply another extension of negotiations over the summer months, during which its banks will be drained of even more deposits and its weary population will lose faith some more.
So Tsipras has penned in the pages of Le Monde a detailed status update on the technical talks in Brussels between that hold the key to Greece avoiding default on Friday. Plus some Hemingway thrown in.
On the achievement front Tsipras claims: getting a lower fiscal surplus target – and hence reduced austerity; changing the tax structure to hit the better off harder; fast tracking more than 100 high-profile corruption cases and forcing the perpetually loss-making private TV networks to front up some money for their licenses.
On the concession front, the main u-turn is on privatisation. There are a whole series of “structural reforms” – like a proper tax collecting regime, and an independent fiscal monitor – where Syriza’s programme coincides with that of the lenders, but privatisation did not.
The key passage is Mr Tsipras’ claim that the tax and spending changes Syriza wants “will increase revenues, and will do so without having recessionary effects since they do not further reduce active demand or place more burdens on the low and middle social strata”.
Basically the Greek government believes there can be non-austerity fiscal discipline and the lenders do not. And that is why Greece remains, for all the emollience in Tsipras article, on a collision course with its lenders.
Could it All Fall Apart for Tsipras?
BBC – Chris Morris
This could be a crucial week for Greece. You’ve probably read that sentence somewhere every week since the end of January.
And yet it still holds true. Because this really could be a crucial week for Greece, as the money continues to run out and further payments to the International Monetary Fund loom large. The next one – €300m; £215m – is due on Friday.
Furthermore, at the end of this month, Greece’s current disputed bailout agreement with its international creditors expires. And without some kind of deal, there won’t be another one.
There are suggestions that progress towards an agreement is being made. The experts are hard at work. There have been conference calls between German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
But every time the Greek government expresses optimism that a deal is within reach, it gets slapped down from one European capital or another. It’s not enough, it isn’t serious.
So, in Athens, Mr Tsipras has chosen this moment to take the gloves off. In an article in Le Monde this weekend, he lambasted the institutions formerly known as the troika for making absurd demands.
It appears, he writes, that “a new European power is being constructed”, a “technocratic monstrosity” with Greece as its first victim, based on “harsh punishment and mandatory austerity”.
Greece, he argues, has made serious concessions. But other forces are working towards “the split and division of the eurozone, and consequently of the EU”.
Part of his criticism is directed at the IMF; part of it at hawks in Berlin. Mr Tsipras’s left-wing party, Syriza, is learning the hard way the limits of its democratic mandate.
It has been clear for some time that a government led by the Coalition of the Radical Left is not business as usual. Even so, for a serving prime minister, Mr Tsipras’s language is striking indeed.
Payment Deadline Renews Greece Deal Talks
Bloomberg – Nikos Chrysoloras
Talks on breaking the impasse over Greece’s financial lifeline took on new urgency as the nation faces a debt repayment at the end of this week with a deal to ease its cash crisis seemingly as far away as ever.
With discussions in their fifth month, deadlines have come and gone with meetings, calls and summits yielding little as disagreements over pensions and labor laws persisted.
The difference now is that Greece must make four payments totaling almost 1.6 billion euros ($1.78 billion) to the International Monetary Fund this month starting on Friday, and its bailout package from the euro region expires at the end of the month.
“It’s truly crunch time for Greece,” Erik Nielsen, chief European economist at UniCredit, said in a note to clients. “A deal is coming, but it’s so tight time-wise that I would count on some bad arrears-related headlines before things calm down.”
Officials representing creditors spent the weekend working to converge among themselves on all issues related to the Greek bailout review, the official familiar with the matter said.
The common position may be communicated to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by European political leaders, the person said, asking not to be named, as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.