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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 9 April 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 APRIL 2016 5 NEWS the Greek issue ply nonsense", although she does not deny the authenticity of the leaked discussion. She made sure to offer her support to the IMF officials handling the Greek bailout program, stating that "for them to be able to do their work, [...] it is critical that your authorities ensure an environment that respects the privacy of their internal discussions and take all necessary steps to guarantee their personal safety". This phrase is believed to be a thinly veiled accusation towards the Greek goverment as being the source of the leak. How did things escalate from there? Alexis Tsipras issued the mandatory response, stat- ing: "The strategy of stalling negotiations, in order to create the circumstances of a credit event in Greece, just before the UK referendum is, indeed, nonsense. It is the kind of nonsense that we all have a duty to avert," he added. This was after a meeting to discuss the process of negotiations, prior to the next set of talks between his government and the lenders, which took place on Wednesday. Greek Finance Minister, Euclid Tsakalotos was supposed to address the issue, but apparently, the leak was not mentioned at all. It was all business as usual. Surely, there must have been a debate in Greece about this, no? There has. Although, in true Greek fashion, the real question - how can the IMF officials entertain the thought of such an event - was not really addressed. The debate mostly focused on whether the Greek National Security Agencies are wiretapping the lenders. Even those who did focus on the content of the leak, dismissed it rather cynically as revealing nothing new, but in fact confirmed what have been the permanent positions of the IMF regarding debt haircut and a reduction of the expected GDP surplus targets. Did it affect the relationships between the IMF and Germany? One would expect Germany to be furious for this kind of plotting. However, both sides refrained from engaging in combat. "For us, these talks don’t exist," stated a spokesperson for the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Lagarde met with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Tuesday, to discuss the negotiations. In a common press conference, they appeared united in their determination to "continue to help" Greece. Both women remained firm in their respective positions. "We are clearly not where we want to be and particularly where Greece should be in order to be stable, in order to be prosperous, in order to respond to the Greek population needs," said Christine Lagarde, stating that "long-term sustainability, and debt sustainability for Greece is going to matter for private sector investors". Angela Merkel all but ruled out a debt cut for Greece. "It is not a demand of the federal government to have no debt haircut but rather in our opinion this is legally not possible in the eurozone," she said, repeating her wish for the IMF to remain on board with the Greek program. So, where are we now? However unlikely this might seem, the fallout may have actually helped the Greek bid to wrap up the bailout review by 22 April, which was the government's wish all along, in order to unfreeze roughly five billion euros in bailout funds and open the way for debt relief talks. During the talks between the lenders and the finance ministry in Athens, both sides agreed that process has been made. One issue on which Athens and the creditors appeared to have agreed Wednesday is that the national pension will be set at €384 after 20 years of work. As for the relations between Greece and the IMF, they may be strained now, but Christine Lagarde, in an interview with Bloomberg, suggested that she's willing to let the heat stemming from the weekend exchange dissipate. "We've gone through ups and downs," she said of the talks with Greek officials. "We are there for the people." Sources: WikiLeaks, The New York Times, Bloomberg, Kathimerini, ThePressProject.gr Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras . PHOTO: EPA/SIMELA PANTZARTZI.
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