Finalising draft up to €86bn

Greece, creditors seen closing in on third bailout accord

GMT 16:29 2015 Sunday ,09 August

Arab Today, arab today Greece, creditors seen closing in on third bailout accord

Greek flag in the sea at Kalamitsa beach
Athens - Arab Today

Greece and its creditors resumed talks in Athens on Sunday with both sides indicating that the terms of a third bailout will be finalised in short order.

The finance and economy ministers, Euclid Tsakalotos and Giorgos Stathakis, were back at the negotiating table with the ECB, the International Monetary Fund and the European Stability Mechanism at 3:00 pm (1200 GMT).

They are finalising the draft of a crucial new bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion) in exchange for further reforms before the debt-ridden country must repay 3.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank on August 20.

Stathakis said ahead of negotiations on Saturday that lasted more than six hours that the talks were "in the final stretch".

On Sunday, pro-government newspaper Avgi said: "All signs are pointing to an agreement... possibly being reached even today."

It added that parliament could vote on the accord this week, or that eurozone finance ministers could approve it first on Friday, after which parliament would vote on it on August 18.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported Sunday that the Greek government would likely approve a 27-page draft memorandum of reform commitments this weekend to allow the new bailout to go through before the August 20 repayment deadline.

With its lenders insisting on "very good cooperation" from Athens, both sides are "working flat out" and "intense talks with Greece will continue over the weekend," an EU source said.

An agreement will have to be reached by August 17 to prevent Greece from having to ask for a bridging loan to avoid another loan default.

The cash-strapped country already missed two key payments to the IMF that were due on June 30 and July 13, but the repayments -- amounting to around two billion euros -- were later made possible with a short-term EU loan.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is under pressure not only by the payment deadline but also from many in his radical left Syriza party who say the new accord will pile further austerity on a weakened economy and goes against the party's campaign pledges.

But with his popularity among Greeks still high, Tsipras has warned the dissidents of early elections in the autumn if they continue to resist the measures.

- 'Negotiating fiasco' -

Former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who has voted against the new bailout agreement, has dismissed it as "a negotiating fiasco" and said Tsipras could not "avoid the outcry by resorting guiltily and hurriedly to elections".

"Neither a Syriza-led government nor the country have a future if we accept a third memorandum," he said in an interview with Avgi on Sunday.

Iskra, a website of the Lafazanis-led Left Platform, the anti-euro group inside Syriza, on Saturday raised the prospect of snap elections as soon as the first half of September.

Quoting anonymous government sources, the website says the plan was to rush the bailout accord through parliament and then immediately call for snap elections in order to "purge" MPs who oppose the new bailout.
Source: AFP

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