Tuesday December 12, 2017
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Eurogroup meeting ends fruitless, Greece insists it tabled proposals

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Image by Telegraph
Image by Telegraph 

 

Brussels/Athens: An emergency Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on the Greek debt deal ended inconclusive on Tuesday, with lenders saying that they expected to discuss Greece’s proposals on Wednesday during a Eurogroup teleconference.

The finance ministers of euro zone countries didn’t receive new proposals they had expected from Greece on Tuesday, Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said after the crucial meeting.

“We welcome our new Greek colleague and listen to his assessment of situation after the ‘no’ vote in Greece,” he said in a short statement, adding that there are no new proposals from new Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos, Xinhua reported.

“The Greek government will send a new request letter for European Stability Mechanism (ESM) support, as soon as it comes in, I am hopeful that tomorrow morning we will have another conference call in the Eurogroup to formally start the process of dealing with the request,” Dijsselbloem said.

He noted that the group will ask the European Union institutions to look at the financial situation in Greece.

“And then the institutions will come back to us, and we will see whether we can formally start the negotiations,” he said.

However, Greek government sources dismissed the criticism, insisting that Greece’s new Finance Minister Tsakalotos had in fact presented proposals.

“Is the problem that we do not have proposals, or that they do not like our proposals? ” a government source asked, according to the Greek national news agency AMNA.

The Greek side stressed that Greece’s proposals had been rejected again.

The statements from both sides were made as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was holding a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande in Brussels ahead of the extraordinary euro zone summit which convenes later on Tuesday on the Greek issue.

According to government sources in Athens, the Greek side is requesting a two-year, 29-billion-euro-worth ($32 billion) bailout programme through the ESM.

Meanwhile, several European partners prefer a bridge agreement for a few months first in exchange for the swift implementation of reforms by the Greek side as a test before a comprehensive deal is discussed.

Officials and analysts from both sides warn that the situation is perilous. Greek banks are closed and capital controls have been imposed in Greece since June 29, ATMs are expected to run out of cash this week, and without emergency assistance, Greece seems to be heading to default and possibly an exit from the euro zone.

Since July 1, Greece has been in arrears to the International Monetary Fund and needs to repay 3.5 billion euros in loan installments to the European Central Bank by July 20.

Earlier in the day, European Commission (EC) president Jean-Claude Juncker called on partners to put “egos” aside and return to the negotiation table to avoid a “Grexit”.

“We have to put our little egos, and in my case very large ego, away and we have to deal with the situation we face,” Juncker said.

The US urged “a compromise” between Athens and international creditors and suggested a package of reforms and financing.

“The referendum is over, but our view here at the White House remains the same… it will require both a package of financing and reforms that will allow Greece to achieve, or at least be on a path towards some debt sustainability, but also be on a path towards economic growth,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that an eventual Grexit from the eurozone would put the economic recovery of the European bloc on edge and likely trigger political instability in the region.

“France is convinced that we cannot take the risk of a Greek exit from the eurozone for economic reasons but mainly for political ones. It is Europe that is in question,” the French premier told RTL radio.

Following the Eurogroup group meeting, a euro zone EU leaders emergency summit was underway in Brussels, Belgium, to find a way for an agreement between Athens and its creditors.

(IANS)

 

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Eurogroup offers three-year grant as Greece accepts austerity measures

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eurogroup_2

By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Eurogroup on Thursday agreed to offer Greece a three-year grant from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), following the Greek parliament’s approval of austerity measures demanded by creditors earlier in the day.

However, doubts about the Greek debt sustainability remain as some believe the bailout deal may not work without “haircuts”.

“We reached today a decision to grant in principle a three-year ESM stability support to Greece, subject to the completion of relevant national procedures,” the Eurogroup said in a statement after a teleconference among its finance ministers, Xinhua reported.

European Union (EU) institutions are expected to swiftly negotiate with the Greek government on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) “detailing the policy conditionality attached to the financial assistance facility”, the statement added.

The negotiation will follow the “completion of the relevant national procedures and the formal decision by the ESM board of governors expected by the end of this week,” it said.

The Eurogroup also urged Greek authorities to “swiftly adopt the second set of measures by July 22 as foreseen in the Euro Summit statement”.

Heads of the 19 eurozone member states on Monday reached a fresh bailout deal for Greece worth up to 86 billion euros (about $94 billion) and promised swift negotiations on a MoU as soon as Greek lawmakers ratify their summit statement and approve a first set of austerity measures on July 15.

A total of 229 Greek lawmakers of the parliament’s 300 seats on early Thursday voted in favour of the summit statement and the first set of taxation and pension system reform measures, with 64 against and six abstentions.

The approvals are viewed as prerequisites for Greece and its creditor’s further talks on the new bailout plan.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Even temporary Grexit not an option, says European Parliament president

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Martin-schulz

 

Brussels: “We must reach an agreement today and I believe we will, as the future of Europe is at stake,” Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, told reporters on Sunday afternoon after delivering a speech at an ongoing meeting on Greek debt issue.

“Grexit, even temporary Grexit, is not an option,” he said.

The president said a strong majority in the European Parliament is determined to keep Greece in the eurozone. “A Grexit would be a lose-lose situation for all, with unpredictable, possibly catastrophic consequences,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.

However, Schulz underlined that Greece must be the first to help itself. Otherwise, any solution will not be sustainable.

He added a European solution is about reaching a compromise, one in which the different expectations of all parties are met.

“I urge all of you to act with responsibility and solidarity. This is not a time for divisions. It’s time for unity,” he said.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel called the talks on Greece’s debt rescue “extremely difficult” and ruled out “agreement at any price”, according to a BBC report.

Merkel said the eurozone leaders would be considering whether “the conditions are met” to start negotiations on a third bailout.

“That’s what is at stake, nothing more and nothing less,” she said.

But she warned that there would be “no agreement at any price”. “We have to make sure the pros outweigh the cons — for Greece’s future, for the entire eurozone and the principles of our collaboration,” the German chancellor added.

The leaders of 19 eurozone member countries have gathered here to discuss Greece’s bailout programme as EU finance ministers’ meeting ended without an agreement.

Without a debt deal in the coming hours, Greece faces financial collapse and Grexit. Greek banks have been closed for the past two weeks and are running out of cash while the country’s economy is suffering from capital controls.

Besides, Greece has been in arrears to the International Monetary Fund since July 1 and faces a 3.5-billion-euro debt repayment to the European Central Bank on July 20.

(IANS)

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#Grefenderum: Greek finance minister quits after ‘No’ vote in referendum

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Athens: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned from his position after a majority of Greeks voted ‘No’ in the referendum on bailout offer, on Monday.
Varoufakis taked about the issue on his website. He said the decision was made in view of “a certain ‘preference’ by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my…’absence’ from its meetings”.

“Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my…‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister (Alexis Tsipras) judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement,” he stated.

“For this reason, I am leaving the ministry of finance today.”

Varoufakis said the Greek citizens’ “historic rejection” of the Eurogroup’s June 25 ultimatum “comes with a large price tag attached”.

“It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms,” he stated.

“I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum,” Varoufakis said.

“And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride,” he added.

( With inputs from IANS)