Dijsselbloem: There is a ‘joint interest’ in getting process for Greece moving again

There is a “joint interest” in finding a way for Greece to progress toward economic recovery and to get the negotiations with Athens moving forward again, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said on Thursday, in comments about his meeting with Greece’s Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos earlier the same day.

“I am sure we will find a way to take steps,” he said.

In a doorstep statement as he arrived for Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting, Dijsselbloem told reporters that he and

Tsakalotos had “discussed the state of play…you know, all the difficult topics” and the “possibilities to move forward.” He said the Eurogroup will listen to Tsakalotos and the European institutions and “see how we can get the process moving again.”

Asked about the position of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dijsselbloem said he had recently spoken to IMF chief Christine Lagarde, who reassured him that “the IMF still has strong intentions to remain part of the [Greek] programme, to take that step and to participate in the programme in full.”

While it had made a lot of effort to remain a part of the programme, he noted, “the IMF had always made their terms very clear: reforms need to be credible, the fiscal path needs to be credible and debt sustainability needs to be credible.”

Asked if the conclusion of the second review was in sight, Dijsselbloem replied that this “is what we are working for” but since there were currently no talks taking place on the ground in Athens “this is what we need to restart now.” He declined to elaborate on what Tsakalotos might “offer” the Eurogroup meeting to “bridge the gap” but noted that “we are all in a very constructive mode”.

Meanwhile, a meeting was underway on Thursday between Tsakalotos, Alternate Finance Minister George Chouliarakis and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Brussels, Greek government sources reported.

The sources said that Tsakalotos and Chouliarakis had earlier also met EuroWorking Group chairman Thomas Wieser and senior representatives of the institutions, among them the head of the European Commission’s Marco Buti (DG Economic and Financial Affairs) and the mission chief to Greece Declan Costello, European Central Bank executives Benoit Coeure and Francesco Drudi, European Stability Mechanism (ESM) chief Klaus Regling and the IMF’s Poul Thomsen and Delia Velculescu, mission chief for Greece.