PM Alexis Tsipras:

Greece in 'final stretch' for deal with creditors

GMT 16:18 2015 Wednesday ,05 August

Arab Today, arab today Greece in 'final stretch' for deal with creditors

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Athens - Arab Today

Greece is in the "final stretch" of talks for a deal with creditors on a new bailout, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday as Athens faces another daunting debt deadline in two weeks.

"We are in the final stretch to conclude an agreement with the institutions," Tsipras said in televised remarks.

"Despite the difficulties, we hope this agreement can end uncertainty over the future of Greece and the eurozone," he added.

Greece needs a deal that will unlock bailout funds by August 20, when it must repay some 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) due to the European Central Bank.

The Greek economy is also suffering from the effects of capital controls imposed last month to avert a bank run, a procedure that has badly disrupted trade.

The Athens stock exchange, which opened with a record drop on Monday after a five-week shutdown, was shedding 4.23 percent in afternoon trade on Wednesday.

Bank shares have been the hardest hit, trading near the maximum allowed drop of 30 percent for three straight days.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday that agreement on the bailout was possible by August 20.

"All the reports I am getting suggest an accord this month, preferably before the 20th," Juncker told AFP in an interview.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos on Tuesday told journalists the high-stakes talks were going "at least as well as we expected", and that the possibility of an emergency loan for the ECB payment has not figured in the discussions.

- Autumn elections 'likely' -

Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili on Wednesday said the talks would continue to the end of the year, however.

"We will have implementation legislation, and points on which the negotiations will not even have ended until the end of the year, such as on labour and non-performing loans," she said.

Tsipras is under pressure from a sizeable minority in his radical Syriza party who say the rescue package he agreed to last month piles further austerity on a weakened economy and goes against the government's campaign pledges.

On Wednesday the prime minister said Greeks had to "adapt to the new circumstances" but insisted that his administration would continue to negotiate with the country's creditors to secure a "fair" distribution of tax pain.

In two successive reform votes last month, more than 30 lawmakers from the ruling Syriza party refused to approve the measures included in the bailout, which is worth up to 86 billion euros over three years.

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.
"Elections are likely in the autumn," Gerovasili told Vima radio earlier. "It mainly depends on how steady this government can be in the coming period."

Tsipras' main party opponent, euroseptic ex-energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, on Wednesday repeated his refusal to accept the new cuts.

"When the new memorandum comes to parliament, I will not vote for it," said Lafazanis, head of a Syriza faction called Left Platform.

"I imagine all the lawmakers associated with Left Platform will not vote (either)," Lafazanis said during a visit to Thessaloniki.

Greece on Wednesday raised 812.5 million euros ($890 million) in six-month treasury bills.
Source: AFP

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