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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 May 2015
GREECE 24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 MAY 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Hollande Says Tsipras talks to pave way for Greece deal French President Francois Hollande opened the prospect of striking a political deal with Greece to unlock bailout aid, as three-way talks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras reached deep into the night in Riga. Hollande, speaking as he ar- rived for a European Union summit in Latvia, said the meeting with Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would help pave the way for an accord to be hammered out by finance ministers at the end of May or early June. Negotiations between the three leaders began in a Riga hotel on the Daugava River after dinner and stretched beyond midnight. "With Tsipras we want to find solutions to restore confidence and release the funds that have been planned," Hollande told reporters before the summit. "So it will be a friendly talk, but a talk in which we have to be able to draft solutions." Hollande's comments build on signs of determination to end the stalemate that has buffeted Greek markets since Tsipras' election in January at the head of a coalition committed to ending austerity The French and German leaders called two days ago for the pace of talks to pick up, and Merkel is already considering making a keynote speech to sell any deal to the German public and members of her Christian Democraticled bloc. Greece's benchmark ASE Index rose 0.6 per cent on Thursday, as the Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.4 per cent to 407.87 at the close of trading. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Momentum building The Greek government believes momentum has been building toward an end-May agreement with creditors that would alleviate the country's cash crunch, according to an official from Greece attending the EU leaders' meeting in Riga. Tsipras planned to highlight progress made in the stafflevel negotiations between Greece and its creditors when he met with Merkel and Hollande, the official told reporters, asking not to be named because the talks are private. For all the signs of optimism, other policy makers warned of hard negotiations yet to come as officials haggle over pensions, wages and other contentious points of detail needed to free up the remaining 7.2 billion-euro ($8 billion) tranche of aid. Without an agreement, Greece risks a default that would put in question its future in the 19-nation euro region. Merkel didn't comment on Greece when she arrived for the EU leaders' meeting, instead focusing on the summit agenda of the bloc's relations with six eastern nations including Ukraine. She and Hollande helped broker a ceasefire agreement Greece debt: Varoufakis ‘taped confidential EU meeting’ Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has caused a fresh furore after telling a newspaper he taped a private meeting of his eurozone counterparts. Mr Varoufakis told The New York Times he could not release the recording due to confidentiality rules. It follows controversy over his negotiating style at debt talks. Greece's government says it will not be able to repay €1.5bn (£1.09bn) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on 5 June without a deal within days. Speaking to the NYT, Mr Varoufakis denied his fellow finance ministers had called him names at a meeting in Riga in April. "All these reports that I was abused, that I was called names, that I was called a time-waster and all that: let Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis denied being called names by his eurozone counterparts last month. me say that I deny this with every fibre of my body," he said. Mr Varoufakis said he had taped the meeting but could not release the tape because of confidentiality rules, the newspaper reported. In a statement released later, he did not refute the report, simply saying: "My respect for the confidentiality of my conversations with my partners, with my peers, with the institutions, is exemplary and I believe it has been acknowledged and understood by everyone." The Greek finance minister was replaced as chief negotiator at the debt talks with EU creditors following the meeting amid reports of a row. He denied he had been sidelined. Greece has been locked in negotiations with the EU and IMF over economic reforms they say must be implemented before the final €7.2bn tranche of the country's €240bn bailout is released. Issues over pension reform, taxation, deregulation of the labour market, and the rehiring of 4,000 former civ- il servants are yet to be resolved. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is attending the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, where he wants to discuss a debt deal with other EU leaders. The government has said it will prioritise the payment of salaries, pensions and the general running costs of the state over the IMF repayment on 5 June. "Now is the moment of truth," Nikos Filis, spokesman for the ruling SYRIZA party's lawmakers, told Greek ANT1 television on Wednesday. "If there is no deal by [5 June] ... they won't get any money," he said. Meanwhile German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he could not rule out a Greek debt default, according to media reports. in Ukraine during all-night discussions in February with President Vladimir Putin in Minsk, Belarus, another of the EU's so-called eastern partnership states. 'Expected Deadline' Hollande said that the discussion with Tsipras would "help prepare for the expected deadline, especially the eurogroup" meeting of euro-area finance ministers "at the end of May or in early June". That suggests an extraordinary finance ministers' meeting on Greece, since the next regular gathering isn't scheduled until June 18. BlackRock Inc., the world's largest money manager, said it judged the chance of Greece leaving the euro area at 20 per cent to 25 per cent. While Greece remains a "major existential risk," a debt deal is likely to be reached, according to Ian Winship, a London-based money manager at BlackRock. "The Greek people seem keen not to leave," said Winship. "At the end of the day, Mr Tsipras may have to go with whatever is being offered by Europe. We don't think Greece is going to leave." France and Germany are not trying to force the matter for the rest of Europe, according to Hollande. "We are working to facilitate the process and at the same time to pass on certain messages useful to Greece and useful to Europe," he said. Samaras urges government to secure deal for Greece The leader of New Democracy (ND) Antonis Samaras on Thursday said an agreement has to be sealed to ensure Greece's funding and economic recovery, following a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) in Riga, Latvia. "An agreement, in other words, which will safeguard reforms and continue privati- sations," Samaras said, adding that "it's not possible to rebuild the vast state that went bankrupt and to fund it with new taxes which cripple the economy." He also said Greece needs a growth agreement and a change of policy to exit "the dead end created by the government and the daily lies of the government propaganda”.
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