31st May 2023

No outcome from Greece talks in Riga

A two-hour meeting between the leaders of Germany, France, and Greece, ended shortly before 1am on Friday morning (22 May) without any tangible result on a new deal for Greece.

"It was a friendly and constructive exchange but it is also clear work has to be done", German chancellor Angela Merkel said.

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  • Tsipras, Merkel, and Hollande spoke for two hours. (Photo: President of France official website)

She added that Germany and France can "answer Greece’s questions and help her", but that the decision will have to be taken with the three international creditors (the EU, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, or IMF).

“It was agreed that the talks between the Greek government and the institutions will be continued”, noted a joint statement released by the French and German governments.

For his part, the Greek PM, Alexis Tsipras, noted: "I am optimistic we can reach a sustainable and viable solution without the mistakes of the past and that Greece will come back … [to] growth".

The talks, between Merkel, French president Francois Hollande, and Tsipras, were held in the margins of a summit in the Latvian capital on EU relations with countries in its eastern neighbourhood.

But despite Tsipras' "optimism", also expressed by some officials earlier in the week, the Riga talks added up to little in terms of decisions.

Before the meeting, Hollande had said it will be “a talk in which we have to be able to draft solutions”.

Greece had said it needs a new deal on its debt before 5 June, otherwise it would default.

A new repayment to the International Monetary Fund is due that day, but if there is no deal by then, “they won't get any money”, a spokesperson for Greek ruling party Syriza said Wednesday, adding that “now is the moment of truth”.

The Greek government has noted it will pay salaries and pensions before it will repay the IMF.

Earlier on Thursday, Spanish economy minister Luis de Guindos told journalists he was “convinced” that a deal would be made “in the coming days”.

On Wednesday, finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, had tempered expectations of a possible deal “within a week”, as his Greek colleague Yanis Varoufakis said on Monday.

Schaeuble said his knowledge of “discussions with the three institutions does not back up the optimism arising from announcements from Athens”.

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