Greece in ‘final stretch’ for deal with creditors: PM
ATHENS – Agence France-Presse
AP photoGreek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has said his government is nearing a deal with international creditors on a mammoth bailout, as his spokeswoman raised the prospect of early elections in the fall.
“We are in the final stretch to conclude an agreement with the institutions,” Tsipras said in televised remarks.
“Despite the difficulties, we hope this agreement can end uncertainty over the future of Greece and the eurozone,” he added.
Greece needs a deal that will unlock bailout funds by August 20, when it must repay some 3.4 billion euros ($3.7 billion) due to the European Central Bank.
The Greek economy is also suffering from the effects of capital controls imposed at the end of June to avert a bank run, a procedure that has badly disrupted trade.
The Athens stock exchange, which opened with a record drop on Aug. 3 after a five-week shutdown, closed 2.53 percent down after losing over 4.2 percent earlier in the day.
Bank shares were once again the hardest hit, trading near the maximum allowed drop of 30 percent for three straight days.
European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said Aug. 5 that an agreement on the bailout was possible by August 20.
“All the reports I am getting suggest an accord this month, preferably before the 20th,” Juncker told AFP in an interview.
In a statement late on Aug. 5, the Greek government also said a deal was “totally feasible” by August 20.
“We are very confident that we are edging very close to a final draft,” government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said.
On Aug. 4 Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos had told journalists the high-stakes talks were going “at least as well as we expected.”
On Aug. 5, as he left the Hilton hotel where top representatives of Greece’s creditors are staying, Tsakalotos said “there are three or four issues still being discussed.”
Meanwhile Tsipras is under pressure from a sizeable minority in his radical-left Syriza party who say the rescue package he agreed to last month piles further austerity on a weakened economy and goes against the government’s campaign pledges.