Tsipras Hopes For Merkel’s Backing

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel to be more lenient and give her backing to Greece’s bid to get an international loan released without finishing delayed reforms.

In a visit to Berlin earlier he was rebuffed in his attempt to meet campaign promises to reverse austerity measures demanded by the country’s creditors – primarily Germany – and as he’s demanding Germany pay World War II reparations.

Greece is locked in stalled talks with the troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) which is holding back a 7.2-billion euro loan he said first he didn’t want but now needs.

The lenders want Tsipras, who heads the ruling Radical Left-SYRIZA led party and a coalition including the Independent Greeks (ANEL) to administer more reforms, including further pension cuts but he’s balking after first indicating he would relent.

Merkel had insisted on big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings and also rejected Tsipras’ call for a Greek debt cut, leaving him little wiggle room in further talks with her.

The meeting, which is to take place on the sidelines of a European Union leaders’ emergency meeting on immigration, was announced in a brief statement from Tsipras’ office.

It came during reports that negotiations taking place in Paris between Greek government officials and troika envoys making painstakingly slow progress as Greece runs out of money and is effectively blocked from international markets by prohibitive interest rates.

In comments to reporters in Athens, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said an agreement would be reached but not by an April 24 meeting of the Eurozone in Riga, Latvia.

“There will be a deal, a comprehensive agreement,” he said. “There is clear convergence,” he said despite EU officials saying there isn’t and that Greece is dragging its feet and playing for time.

Varoufakis admitted that the IMF “was demanding the deregulation of the labor market,” which he said has already been hit hard.

A government source told Kathimerini that “ground has been covered” in talks but admitted that “the progress… is not enough for Riga.”

The newspaper said the next new deadline, set after a number of others had elapsed without consequences, would be May 11 in Brussels.

Greece is living off a four-month bailout extension given Feb. 20 on promise of presenting a credible list of reforms but Varoufakis continues to give only vague outlines and evasive answers while simultaneously promising Greece will make reforms while telling voters it won’t.

All that has caused much consternation in the EU. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he was “absolutely not satisfied with the course of talks so far.”

“There is urgent need for greater efforts on the Greek side,” he said. “The intensity of talks has increased in the past four or five days but is not yet at the maturity needed to be able to reach a quick conclusion.”

He said Greece should not be abandoned but added that it cannot be supported “at any price.”
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem continued to say a Greek eurozone exit was “not an option.”