J. Dijsselbloem: Tsakalotos confirmed to me that the Greek government accepts that the IMF needs to be part of the process

The government was forced to accept Thursday that the International Monetary Fund will remain part of the bailout program despite Greek officials suggesting the contrary in recent weeks.

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotis emerged from the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels in little doubt that Greece’s European lenders will not move forward with the program without the IMF.

“Tsakalotos confirmed to me that the Greek government accepts that the IMF needs to be part of the process,” said Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

“It was absolutely clear to him, it was part of the agreement this summer,” the Dutch finance minister added.

Tsakalotos confirmed the decision in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. “The IMF’s participation is planned. We are sticking to this commitment,” Tsakalotos told the daily.

Speaking to Kathimerini and four other European newspapers, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told Kathimerini that Brussels is working on the basis that the Fund will be involved in Greece.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is due to meet IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde at the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos. Athens is keen to ensure that the IMF’s representatives in the quadriga of lenders that will conduct the first program review, possibly starting next week, will not pressure the government to adopt measures that could put its political survival in doubt.

Tsipras is also expected to raise the issue of debt relief. The Fund has insisted that Greece will need a substantial restructuring of its total debt, whereas the European lenders are more focused on keeping debt servicing costs low.

The other key issues mentioned by Dijsselbloem after Thursday’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers were the need for Greece and its lenders to exchange more information on the coalition’s pension proposals and to discuss the fiscal measures for this year.

The Eurogroup chief also stressed the need for political interference in Greek banks to end. His comments came in the wake of reports that Piraeus Bank CEO Anthimos Thomopoulos came under pressure to resign.