Greece, creditors line up rival proposals for more aid

Greece, creditors line up rival proposals for more aid

ATHENS / PARIS - Reuters
Greece, creditors line up rival proposals for more aid

AP Photo

Greece’s creditors are close to finishing a draft agreement to put to the leftist government in Athens, a source close to the talks said on June 2, injecting new momentum into long-running negotiations to release aid for the cash-strapped country. 

Hours earlier, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Athens had submitted its own proposal to lenders - an apparent effort to pre-empt a take-it-or-leave-it offer by the creditors and to show Greek voters that Athens made its move first. 

The statements of proposal and counter-proposal came after leaders of Germany, France and the lending institutions held emergency talks on the Greek debt crisis in Berlin late on Monday in a sign of top-level concern about the impasse.  

Starved of aid and access to bond markets, Athens is precipitously close to running out of money. It has threatened to default on an IMF payment this week without a deal, though it also says it will reject any “take-it-or-leave-it” ultimatums. 

Tsipras: A realistic plan

“We have submitted a realistic plan for Greece to exit the crisis. A realistic plan, whose acceptance by the institutions, our lenders and our partners in Europe will mark the end of the scenario of divisions in Europe,” Tsipras told reporters. 

“It is now clear that the decision on whether they want to adjust to realism ... the decision rests with the political leadership of Europe.” 

A source close to the talks said the lenders in the meantime were finalizing details of their offer to Athens.

“We are almost done,” the source said. 

A European Commission spokeswoman said many documents were being exchanged among negotiators, which was “already a good sign”. Talks with Greece were continuing and “we are not there yet”, she said. 

It was not immediately known whether the document sent by Athens, which some EU officials said they had not yet seen, gave any ground on the main outstanding issues of pension and labor market reform, fiscal targets and the size of the civil service that have dogged four months of tough negotiations. 

Sources close to the negotiations said there were no major concessions on the deal-breaking issues in the Greek paper. 

The European Union’s economics chief said earlier Athens had put forward first proposals for pension reform as the talks reach a crunch point this week with Greek funds drying up. 

The leaders who met in Berlin agreed to work with “real intensity” to try to wrap up the negotiations in the coming days and to keep in touch with each other and with Tsipras.  Their meeting showed that national and international leaders have now taken the battle to keep Greece in the euro zone into their own hands after months of insisting it was a matter for technical negotiations among experts.