Greece’s talks with the international lenders are failing utterly, world press reports say, because the government doesn’t have a clue what to do.
Some excerpts of world opinion and writings:
Talks Not Going Well Between Greece, Troika
Wall Street Journal – Gabrielle Steinhauser and Viktoria Dendrinou
Technical talks between Greece and its creditors aren’t going well, officials said, with each blaming the other for the snags in crucial negotiations.
Teams from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are getting very little information on the government’s finances and other key topics in Athens, two European officials said.
“The line was that the Greeks aren’t cooperating,” said one of the officials, summarizing the institutions’ account during a teleconference among senior eurozone finance ministry officials on March 17.
A Greek official said the technical teams had gone beyond their role as fact-finders and had sought to intervene in politics, continuing a frequent line of complaint from Athens about the so-called troika of inspectors.
The technical work is key to figuring out when Greece may run out of money and whether the rest of the eurozone is prepared to provide further support to the left-wing government.
Eurozone finance ministers agreed last month to extend Greece’s €240 billion ($254 billion) bailout by four months until the end of June.
However, there has been little progress on defining reform measures in return for sustained aid, raising concerns over Greece’s future in the eurozone.
During the teleconference, the Greek representative said his government wasn’t prepared to talk about the country’s finances with technical experts and instead wanted European Union leaders to discuss the issue at a summit in Brussels, one of the European officials said.
“There was a general feeling that the Greek side is completely out of touch with reality,” said the official.
Representatives of the three institutions said that, based on the limited information they have, the Greek government will be able to sustain payments only for another few weeks, according to the official.
Greece Defies EU with Anti-Austerity Law
The Greek parliament has approved a package of social measures, despite warnings from the European Commission against “proceeding unilaterally”.
In parliament, the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras defended what he called a “humanitarian crisis” law.
The law – the first to be introduced since Mr Tsipras’s party won elections in January – offers food stamps and free electricity to the very poorest.
The total amount of assistance is worth about €200m ($213m; £144m).
It is the kind of anti-austerity measure that Mr Tsipras had promised before his election victory in January.
In a 30-minute speech he defended the legislation, which he described as the first bill in five years to be drawn up in Athens, rather than ordered by EU technocrats.
He also criticised a leaked letter from an EU official, which had advised Greece to consult with its international creditors before proceeding with the legislation.
“If they’re doing it to frighten us, the answer is: we will not be frightened,” Mr Tsipras told parliament. “What else can one say to those who have the audacity to say that dealing with a humanitarian crisis is a ‘unilateral action’?”
The new law, and Mr Tsipras’s defiant speech, come ahead of an expected meeting with Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels this week.
Greece is still in dispute with its international creditors about the terms of an extension to its huge financial bailout, with the eurozone demanding that Athens commit to spending cuts to release further loans.
Relations between Brussels and Athens have soured dramatically.
Greece Pushes Creditors to Edge, Demands Summit
The Telegraph – Mehreen Khan
The Greek government has demanded bail-out talks be carried out at an EU summit later this week, frustrating its creditors in already strained bail-out negotiations.
According to reports, Athens refused to update European finance ministers about its plans to implement vital reforms at a scheduled teleconference yesterday.
One European official was quoted as saying the country’s brinkmanship was “something of the last straw”.
The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s main three creditors, was reported to have called Greece “the most unhelpful client” the Fund has dealt with in their 70-year history during the ill-tempered teleconference.
Athens is due to make a €350m repayment to the Fund on Friday.
The tensions reflect a deterioration in trust between Greece and its international creditors in recent weeks.
Escalating fears that the country may not be able to secure the funds it needs to stay solvent until June, the head of the eurogroup of finance ministers warned Greece may need to impose “Cyprus style” capital controls.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, equated the plight of the two debt-stricken nations saying it was important to “think about Cyprus” as an example Greece could follow. “The amount of cash … is declining by the day.”
Source: The National Herald