Hollande Pushes Greek Reform Deal

Greek Prime minister Alexis Tsipras, right, welcomes French President Francois Hollande, at Maximos mansion before their meeting in Athens, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Hollande called Thursday for talks relieving Greece's crushing debt load and spurring investment, measures that could help the country recover as it imposes harsh austerity measures demanded by international creditors.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Greece’s Premier is getting backing again from Socialist French President Francois Hollande who said Greece should get a fast reform deal from its international creditors.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Radical Left SYRIZA party, is being hammered by lenders who want his coalition government to prepare 3.4 billion euros ($3.88 billion) in contingency measures to go along with 5.4 billion euros ($6.17 billion) in spending cuts to which he agreed in July, 2015 to get a third bailout of 86 billion euros ($98.26 billion).

Greece and the Quartet of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank-European Stability Mechanism (EU-IMF-ECB-ESM) have been locked in talks for nine months over the terms attached to the bailout, including more pension cuts Tsipras vowed to reject.

Hollande said he hopes a deal can be reached at a May 9 meeting of Eurozone finance ministers, Kathimerini said, although other EU officials and the lenders said that’s unlikely.

In a statement, the Eurogroup said the negotiations will focus on “a comprehensive package of policy reforms as well as the sustainability of Greece’s public debt.” It is the first time Greece’s debt is on the agenda of a Eurogroup meeting.

Greek officials insisted it won’t accept contingency measures. “We have made it clear that for procedural and substantive reasons, this cannot be done,” Deputy Defense Minister Dimitris Vitsas said.

Some EU officials were said to have supported Greece’s counter-proposal for activation of an automatic system for cutting state spending if budget targets are missed but the IMF and Germany prefer more austerity to be triggered.