ATHENS – As critical September talks in Paris with its international lenders draws near, Greek officials are setting a strategy to get lower taxes and debt relief.
A Greek team will meet envoys from the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in France instead of Athens because the government feared protests. There was no information on how much it would cost to conduct the talks in Paris.
The negotiations over Greece’s unfinished reforms are also expected to include whether Greece will be able to restructure the 240 billion euros ($327 billion) it owes the Troika, or even walk away from much of what it owes.
A so-called “haircut,” it would force taxpayers in the other 17 Eurozone countries to pick up the tab for generations of wild overspending by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives and its partner, the PASOK Socialists.
The talks are now reportedly set for Sept. 2-4, having been moved forward a day, just ahead of the Sept. 5 meeting of a Euro working group which will prepare for a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers the next week.
EU finance chiefs want a full report from the Troika on Greece’s progress even as Samaras said a recovery from a seven-year recession is in sight, despite some analysts warning the county’s economic future will remain rocky for years.
The preliminary talks are designed to set the state for more detailed negotiations in Athens later in September.
Greece will be represented at the Paris talks by Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Deputy Finance Minister Giorgos Mavraganis, Labor Minister Yiannis Vroutsis, Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Development Minister Nikos Dendias.
One of the four key aims will be to convince the IMF to complete the fifth review without waiting for the ECB Bank to announce the results of its stress tests on Greek banks in October, Kathimerini said. That would open the door for debt relief talk. The IMF has so far insisted that the ECB must complete its checks before the review can be concluded.
Greece also wants clarification on which of some 600 unfinished reforms that haven’t been completed for years that the Troika considers vital.
With his party fading, Samaras also wants to lower some taxes that are among the harsh austerity measures he imposed on Troika orders but now wants cut.