July 15, 2024

Greece Says Talks With Lenders End ‘Positively’

ATHENS — After weeks of tense negotiations with its foreign creditors, Greece said Friday that a review of steps it had taken so far to meet the terms of its bailout had ended “positively,” marking a big step toward the release of a further installment of emergency funding.

In a statement, the Finance Ministry did not state explicitly whether the fifth transfer from its €110 billion, or $159 billion, package — this one valued at €12 billion — had been approved.

But it said that discussions with representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund “concluded today positively,” having covered additional measures needed to meet the 2011 deficit target, including privatizations and “structural reforms to restore growth and competitiveness.”

The ministry said the additional measures would be discussed by the government “in the coming days” before being voted on in Parliament.

In a separate statement, the commission, E.C.B. and I.M.F. said “the next tranche will become available, most likely, in early July.” But it added that more talks on financing would be held over the next few weeks, and the decision would still require approval by the I.M.F.’s executive board and the group of euro-zone finance ministers.

The European Union and I.M.F. pledged the emergency loans in May 2010 to rescue Greece from defaulting on its massive debt. In addition to deciding whether to release the latest tranche, they are also considering whether to extend additional loans of up to €60 billion to give Greece more breathing room while it struggles with a deep economic downturn.

Talks on those additional funds have been moving forward in recent weeks, although Greece’s lenders are demanding additional efforts to raise revenue and privatize state assets.

The Greek government is set to announce a new austerity plan that envisages raising €6.4 billion through spending cuts and tax increases this year, and raising another €50 billion by 2015 through privatizations.

The measures were expected to be outlined later Friday by the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, who flew to Luxembourg for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the euro group of finance ministers.

The announcement came amid mounting public opposition in Greece to an ongoing austerity drive and growing rifts within the ruling Socialist party, which has failed in two attempts to secure a broad political consensus for more austerity measures. E.U. and I.M.F. officials have pushed the government to get all political parties to sign on to the measures to ease the implementation.

The Socialist government has a comfortable, 6-seat majority in Parliament, but several Socialist lawmakers have suggested they might vote against the new austerity proposals. A letter sent to Mr. Papandreou on Thursday by 16 Socialist members of Parliament, framed the question being posed continually in the Greek media: “A year after signing the memorandum [last year’s agreement with Greece’s creditors] we are at a crucial juncture again. Why?”

Public opposition to the new measures has been evident. Thousands of Greeks, including many young people, filled the main square outside Parliament for a tenth day on Friday, calling on the government to revoke measures and for foreign creditors to “go home.” The protests have been small by Greek standards but are growing in intensity, and there have been sporadic incidents of stone-throwing at politicians.

Government officials have claimed that some of those incidents have been orchestrated by the Communist party and the radical left party Syriza, which are both represented in Parliament.

On Friday, members of the Communist-affiliated labor union PAME stormed the Finance Ministry offices, which are located opposite Parliament, and strung up a banner calling for “an organized overthrow” and strike action.

The country’s main labor union, GSEE, which represents around 2 million workers, has called a one-day strike for June 9 and is joining the civil servants’ union, which represents about 800,000 people, for a general strike on June 15.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=72a473e421dab2b4487d07d8ce0c9eb2

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