Tuesday

21st May 2019

Tsipras asks for quick deal

  • Greek PM Tsipras asked Merkel for an acceleration of talks to reach an agreement that would allow Greece to receive a new loan. (Photo: Bundeskanzlerei)

A meeting between Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday (23 April) was described as "positive and constructive" but is unlikely to immediately break the impasse between Greece and its creditors

The two leaders met for about an hour in Brussels before the start of the EU emergency summit on the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

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Tsipras was looking for political support from Merkel on the eve of a meeting of euro finance ministers in Riga.

"They discussed the significant steps and the progress made since their previous meeting in Berlin" on 23 March, a Greek source told EUobserver.

Tsipras asked that talks be accelerated in order to reach "a first interim agreement" by the end of April, next week.

The Greek PM now expects "a political sign" from the Eurogroup, the source added, with the two sides locked in disagreement over what reforms Athens has to carry out in order to unlock €7.2bn in bailout money.

At a press conference after the summit, Merkel refused to comment on the meeting, saying both leaders agreed their discussion would remain "confidential".

A German source downplayed the significance of the meeting, telling EUobserver that bilateral talks were usual before a summit and that immigration had "probably" been the main issue discussed.

Contrary to what happened at the last EU summit and to what Tsipras had announced on Twitter on Thursday, French president Francois Hollande did not participate in the meeting.

Hollande had only a short bilateral talk with Tsipras Thursday evening after the emergency summit.

"Greece must continue to give the necessary informations and show it has taken decisions on reforms," Hollande said at a press conference.

While Tsipras is asking for quick deal, Greece’s lenders still consider the reforms they asked from Greece in February are not detailed enough.

"There is still a lot to be done," EU commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said on Thursday, adding that "it will apparently take some more time" before an agreement is reached.

Greece and its lenders already agreed that there should be a 1.5 pecent primary budget surplus in 2015 and an unspecified target for 2016, according to Greek sources cited by Bloomberg news agency.

The 2014 memorandum between Greece and its lenders had set a 3 percent target for 2015 and the Tsipras government had been asking flexibility on the issue since it came to power at the end of January.

The two sides also have converged on privatisations, one of the four areas where Greece said it would not compromise, Bloomberg also reported.

But disagreements remain on the three other issues, pensions, VAT and labour laws, which the Greek government describes as its red lines.

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