Saturday 24 September 2016

Greece crisis: Alexis Tsipras says Greece close to concluding deal with lenders on multi-billion euro bailout

* PM says deal will end doubts over Greece's future
* Syriza parliamentary spokesman says no to bridge loan

Published 05/08/2015 | 13:43

Greece's Prime minister Alexis Tsipras listens to a speech during a gathering at the Agriculture ministry in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Tsipras said his country was at the final stage of talks for a new bailout, as his left-wing government on Wednesday rejected the idea of an extension in negotiations. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greece's Prime minister Alexis Tsipras listens to a speech during a gathering at the Agriculture ministry in Athens, Greece, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2015. Tsipras said his country was at the final stage of talks for a new bailout, as his left-wing government on Wednesday rejected the idea of an extension in negotiations. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gives a speech at the Agriculture Ministry in central Athens, Greece, August 5, 2015. Tsipras said on Wednesday Greece is close to concluding a deal with lenders on a multi billion euro bailout, which he said would end doubts over the country's presence in the euro zone. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday that Greece was close to concluding a deal with lenders on a multi-billion-euro bailout, which he said would end doubts over its place in the euro zone.

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The comments were the latest in a series of unusually upbeat assessments by Greek and European officials of progress in talks towards up to 86 billion euros ($93.6 billion) in fresh loans to stave off the country's financial ruin and economic collapse.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during the Prime Minister's Questions at parliament in Athens, Greece July 31, 2015.Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed he authorized his former finance minister to prepare contingency plans in case the country was forced to leave the euro, calling it the obligation of a responsible government. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during the Prime Minister's Questions at parliament in Athens, Greece July 31, 2015.Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed he authorized his former finance minister to prepare contingency plans in case the country was forced to leave the euro, calling it the obligation of a responsible government. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras answers questions during the Prime Minister's Questions at parliament in Athens, Greece July 31, 2015. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed he authorized his former finance minister to prepare contingency plans in case the country was forced to leave the euro, calling it the obligation of a responsible government. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras answers questions at parliament in Athens, Greece July 31, 2015. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday confirmed he authorized his former finance minister to prepare contingency plans in case the country was forced to leave the euro, calling it the obligation of a responsible government. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

"We are in the final stretch," Tsipras said. "...Despite the difficulties we are facing we hope this agreement can end uncertainty on the future of Greece."

An accord must be settled by Aug. 20, when a 3.5 billion euro debt payment to the European Central Bank falls due.

Both sides have said such a deal is possible, although the European Commission described the target as ambitious, suggesting much remains to be done.

Discussions between Greece and representatives from the IMF, ECB, European Commission and the euro zone's bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, started in the last week of July.

Tsipras, who was visiting the agriculture ministry, said the process should also potentially include the European Parliament, indirectly alluding to past complaints over the legitimacy of demands from lenders.

"It should at some point be under the control and monitoring of the European Parliament, a democratic institution which has accountability," Tsipras said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (centre) arrives at Syriza party HQ for a meeting with senior party officials in Athens (AP)
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (centre) arrives at Syriza party HQ for a meeting with senior party officials in Athens (AP)
Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party, left, and Pablo Iglesias, leader of Spain's Podemos party, wave to supporters during a Syriza party pre-election rally at Omonoia square, in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015. The election battle between Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and opposition leader Tsipras moved into its final stretch, with Tsipras's anti-bailout Syriza party maintaining its lead before voting day on Jan. 25. Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis /Bloomberg Alexis Tsipras; Pablo Iglesias
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
The new bailout was only possible after Alexis Tsipras made a sharp U-turn from years of vehemently opposing further cuts (AP)

Over the next two weeks Greece must conclude loan terms, or at least secure a bridge loan. It received a bridge loan last month to cover its immediate financing needs.

Greek officials say the country wants a full bailout immediately rather than a bridge loan.

"We will not accept new prior actions (reform conditions in place) in order to have a small bridge loan," Nikos Filis, parliamentary spokesman for Tsipras's Syriza party, said on Wednesday.

"We want one final deal to be signed and then we will see what is needed to have a disbursement of 25 billion euros as the first instalment."

Greek media has reported up to 10 billion euros of the first tranche of bailout aid could be channelled to banks, which urgently need recapitalising after mass cash withdrawals earlier this year that culminated in capital controls.

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Reuters

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