New meeting between Tsipras, Merkel and Hollande on the sidelines of the summit meeting in Brussels

The ongoing negotiations between Athens and its creditors are resembling a tense poker match, as PM Alexis Tsipras attempts to gauge the response of the country’s partners to the Greek proposal, as well as where the institutions may soften their stance, in the teleconference he had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

The high-level teleconference between the French, German and Greek political leaders was carried out a few hours after Reuters reported that the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker refused to take a telephone call by Prime Minister Tsipras.

From the stand in Parliament in Athens on Friday, PM Tsipras argued that the “absurd” proposal submitted by the EC president did not include any provisions for debt relief. In his passionate speech he rejected controversial aspects of the agreement, such as the demands to increase the VAT on energy and cut supplementary pensions. He also insisted on lower, more realistic primary surplus targets.

In his teleconference with his French and German counterparts, Prime Minister Tsipras argued that only the Greek proposal can be a basis for an agreement, while rejecting the institutions’ proposal submitted by Jean-Claude Juncker last week. Greek government sources commented that the teleconference was carried out in a very positive climate and that the three leaders agreed to meet on the sidelines of the summit meeting in Brussels on Wednesday.

Earlier on Saturday, on the sidelines of the French Socialist Party conference, Finance Minister Michel Sapin clarified that the proposal of the creditors to Greece was not an ultimatum and that it is negotiable. He also commented that Greece has “legitimate arguments” against carrying out pension cuts, but stressed that Athens must come up with alternative proposals which may achieve the same overall economic balance.