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Why haven’t months of negotiations between Greece and its international lenders produced a deal or even a single step forward, world press accounts ask.

Some excerpts:

Seriously Greece, What’s Holding it Up?

CNBC – Holly Ellyatt

Since coming to power at the end of January, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Greece’s leftwing government had spent all of its time in talks with its international lenders.

Negotiations over the country’s bailout program, reform measures and financial needs have seemingly dragged on and Greece has rarely been out of the headlines since Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and fiery Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis took the helm in January’s election and started trying to steer Greece away from economic disaster.

Greece’s euro zone counterparts have already agreed to give the country a four-month extension to its bailout program in order to allow it to make far-reaching reforms.

But the reform process has been slow with disagreements between Athens and the organizations making sure it sticks to the rules of its bailout – the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund — over how far it needs to go …

The Greek government official CNBC spoke to said that the statement showed there had “some kind of breakthrough” and believed a deal could be arrived at in the “next few weeks.”

“There can be a deal on reforms — without it necessarily needing to include harsh cut backs on pensions or mass lay-offs of workers which are recession-creating measures,” the source, said.

Greek Documents Baffle Eurozone Officials

The Wall Street Journal – Victoria Dendrinou

Documents containing overhaul plans and growth estimates distributed by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis to some of his eurozone counterparts have baffled officials involved in the talks between Greece and its international creditors.

Officials say that the files differ greatly from what has been discussed in technical talks in Brussels in recent days and underline how Mr. Varoufakis continues to complicate progress toward a financing deal.

The 36-page document, entitled Greece’s Recovery: A Blueprint and seen by The Wall Street Journal, was presented by Mr. Varoufakis to his counterparts in Paris and Rome, as well as senior officials in Brussels while touring European capitals over the last week, according to four European officials …

“The problem is that Varoufakis doesn’t seem totally in line with [Greek Prime Minister Alexis] Tsipras,” another official said, adding that it isn’t clear to what extent the files represent the government’s position.

This has caused confusion in the talks, officials say.

Defiant Greece Rehires Public Workers Despite Bailout Talks


Greece is rehiring thousands of public sector workers, including cleaning ladies, despite sustained pressure from its international creditors.

Greek MPs passed a law to give back jobs to some 4,000 workers who were laid off under severe austerity cuts.

It comes as Athens seeks a deal on more financial aid ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Monday.

Greece is running out of money as it has to pay €750m ($845m; £555m) to the International Monetary Fund on 12 May.

International creditors have demanded cuts in spending, including plans to trim the civil service and privatisation of state assets, in order for Greece to continue receiving loans.

On Thursday, the Greek parliament adopted a bill to rehire school guards, cleaning ladies and civil servants who lost their jobs or were earmarked for dismissal under the austerity programme.

Last year, 32 cleaning ladies sacked by the Greek finance ministry came to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in France to plead their case.

The insistence of the cleaners – who were replaced by cheaper workers – made them famous all over Greece.

Thursday’s bill in the Greek parliament does not violate the terms of a massive bailout by the EU and IMF, which allows Athens to hire one public employee for every five who leave.

But the move – combined with the reopening of the public broadcaster ERT – is likely to face criticism from the eurozone negotiators.

Euclid Tsakalotos, the Greek minister leading the talks with creditors, told the BBC it was time for the EU and IMF to show they supported Athens in its desire to do things a little differently.

“We have said from the beginning that we have red lines and we need to have the flexibility that our partners said would be available to us.”

The contents of the paper focus on the future of the Greek economy, and how it can return to growth. “Perhaps it is time to visualize a recovering Greece before we unlock the present impasse,” the document says, before going into the various areas where the country plans to reform.

While some of the reforms the document outlines are the same ones agreed in the ongoing negotiations–such as the creation of a fully independent tax commissioner– the paper also differs in several areas from what is currently being discussed between technical experts representing Greece and the institutions overseeing its bailout.

“There is hardly any connection between his blueprint and the ongoing ‘negotiations’,” an EU official said. “It seems like a fine program for a country that does not have any financing problems, but just wants to catch up and be a nice tourist destination,” he added.



The post World Press View: Why Isn’t There Deal Yet For Greece? appeared first on The National Herald.

Source: The National Herald
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