European officials check new Greek debt proposals

Alexis Tsipras

European officials are preparing to assess Greece’s third set of economic policy proposals with German chancellor Angela Merkel urging prime minister Alexis Tsipras to do what is needed to qualify for aid.

Tsipras’s government may submit a comprehensive list of policy measures aimed at securing more financial aid by the end of the week. That document needs the endorsement of Greece’s official creditors and the finance officials’ committee before ministers will consider whether it’s up to scratch.

Euro-area finance officials will hold a call today to discuss progress on Greece, two people familiar with the plans said.

“That process is slowly speeding up, I can say, with some cautious satisfaction,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, chairman of the finance ministers’ group, said in a television interview yesterday.

“They’re currently working hard on completing the list. That should provide more details,” he said.

After a red-carpet reception and five hours of talks with Merkel on Monday, Tsipras met the chancellor’s coalition partners yesterday as he seeks to build political support for a payment. Investors have welcomed the rapprochement after weeks of sniping hampered the work to release aid.

Keeping Greece in the euro “is the focus of all of our efforts, though it’s up to the Greek government first and foremost to do its part”, deputy foreign minister Michael Roth said in response to emailed questions. “We can’t afford to lose any more time.”

“I think what we’re experiencing, thank God, is a normalisation of relations between Germany and Greece.

“We want to help, but to do that, the Greek government itself must put forward a programme that conforms with the agreed objectives and programmes,” said German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel after meeting the Greek prime minister.

Even so, a month after winning an extension of the Greek bailout, Tsipras is still scrambling from day to day to meet the government’s obligations, turning each major payment the country faces into a cliffhanger with investors and officials unsure when Greece’s cash will run out.

With creditors demanding more work on that plan, the risk of Greece being forced out of the euro is growing, UK chancellor George Osborne said.

Tsipras and Merkel hinted at the tensions between their finance ministers in recent weeks at a joint press conference on Monday.

Tsipras said that he wants to avoid widening splits in the euro area and urged Germans and Greeks to avoid stereotyping each other, saying Germany isn’t to blame for all of Greece’s problems.

“It’s up to us both to have a trusting co-operation and that we can also address difficult questions, including questions for which we have different options,” Merkel said.


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