Tsakalotos: Overall deal on Greece’s loan tranche, debt feasible within three weeks

epa05271960 Greek Finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos prior to the meeting of the Eurozone Finance Ministers at the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 22 April 2016. Eurozone ministers met to discuss the Greek bailout and the Panama Papers fallout. EPA/BART MAAT

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos expressed the joint belief of all Eurogroup participants on Monday that an overall agreement on Greece – including both the release of the next loan tranche and the prospect of a debt relief – is possible in the next three weeks, in comments following the conclusion of a finance ministers’ meeting of eurozone countries in Brussels.

Tsakalotos noted the significant progress achieved and noted that there is widespread agreement that Greece has met its obligations in terms of implementing the prior actions policy package agreed with Greece’s lenders. “The representatives of the lenders and the member states of the eurozone stressed the quality of the reforms project,” he said and foresaw no obstacles in the formal conclusion of the second review.

The minister noted that these issues dominated yesterday’s meeting and reiterated that there was agreement to articulate further the measures related to debt relief which will be implemented following the successful conclusion of the Greek programme.

He also noted that it was agreed to keep primary surpluses at 3.5% for four years beyond 2018.
Among other things, he said that negotiations over the debt were tough. The Greek government has met its obligations, he said, and now it is the turn of the International Monetary Fund and eurozone member states to reach a compromise and further clarify the debt measures.

This was not possible at this meeting, he said, because negotiations began with greatly divergent positions, and despite attempts to close the gap there was a general sense that more work was necessary before an agreement could be reached. Therefore, he explained, it was decided to provide additional time in order to better define the debt measures so that financial markets and the Greek people understand exactly what to expect at the end of the programme. He also expressed the opinion that all sides were committed to reaching a compromise.

All parties believe this will be possible within the next three weeks, he said, prior to the Eurogroup scheduled for June 15.