Greece: Varoufakis, agreement in two weeks

EU warms to debt restructuring, but only after agreement

08 May, 11:32

    Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives at the EU Commission Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrives at the EU Commission Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

    BRUSSELS - The gap between Greece and Europe seems to be getting smaller: Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said an agreement could be reached "within two weeks" and Eurogroup President, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, warmed to the prospect of a restructuring of the debt, once an accord on the completion of the programme is attained.

    Negotiations will proceed until the end of the weekend in the hope of making sufficient progress to allow Monday's Eurogroup to formally attest the Greek effort, a step which could result in the ECB unblocking more liquidity, raising the bar for Hellenic emissions or reinstating the 'waiver' which entitles Frankfurt to offer direct loans to Greek Banks, a measure that was suspended in February.

    The objective shared by Athens and Brussels is to find a solution to offset the risk of bankruptcy for Greece which will be called to reinburse 800 million euros to the IMF on Tuesday.

    "We have the intention of moving in the same direction as Varoufakis, we are working to bridge the differences in our positions and I expect progress towards an agreement at the Eurogroup on Monday" said European Affairs Commissioner, Pierre Moscovici, during a debate also attended by the Greek minister. After the blows he suffered in Riga, Varoufakis is vying to regain the respect of his peers: he visited Sapin in Paris, met Padoan in Rome and will hold talks with De Guindos in Madrid today.

    The minister is sending positive signals: "We are very, very close to a deal," he said yesterday, adding he was "certain" an agreement could be reached within two weeks. Varoufakis was careful to point out that Athens's position vis à vis the accord had not weakend and stressed he would not respond to requests targeting pensions. Dijsselbloem opened the door to the possibility of a restructuring of the Greek debt confirming a position that was already known but which takes special significance at a moment in which the negotiations appear to have accelerated. "Discussion on an easing of the debt are not tabu" but they will take place "only once the second programme is completed".

    However, the Eurogroup president maintained that "a reduction of the nominal value of the debt" is "politically impossible" .

    An easing of the debt had already been envisioned in November for example by means of a deadline-revision, but the scenario is be considered as a credible option only after the completion of the second programme in June, were the debt to be judged as unsustainable.(ANSAmed).

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