Second review and dialogue on EU’s future the focus of his talks in Brussels, Katrougalos says

An effort is currently underway to quickly draw up an “outline agreement” on the second review, so that the February 20 deadline is not missed, Alternate Foreign Minister George Katrougalos told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday. The minister made the statement while talking about his meeting with European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici on Wednesday.

He said that the Commission has undertaken an “important supportive role” and squarely blamed the IMF’s “indecision” and “unreasonable demands” for the delay in concluding the review. If the negotiations were being conducted with the Europeans alone, Katrougalos suggested, the review would have concluded in December.

The Greek government’s position is that it will not back down on “matters of principle” but Athens is aware that the negotiations cannot continue indefinitely, Katrougalos added, since the goal is for the country to quickly join the quantitative easing programme.

The minister said his meetings in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday were focused on the priorities of Greek diplomacy and the government’s strategy in the dialogue on the future of Europe, launched ahead of the March 25 European Council in Rome to mark the 60th anniversary since the Rome Treaty founding the EU. Katrougalos said Greece is pushing for stronger social and democratic elements in the EU’s economic governance.

They included a meeting with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans on extending the short-stay visas for Turkish citizens visiting Greek islands and his participation in a European Parliament conference on the refugee and migration crisis. Katrougalos noted that a revision of the Dublin Treaty should ensure that the burden does not fall exclusively on countries of first reception.