Sunday 21 January 2018

Taoiseach: Time is of the essence to secure bailout deal

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron during a round table meeting at the EU summit in Brussels
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron during a round table meeting at the EU summit in Brussels
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pours a cup of coffee as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on at a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and French President Francois Hollande prior to an emergency summit in Brussels yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned "time is now of the essence" to secure a new bailout deal for Greece as a crucial European Union summit concluded.

Mr Kenny welcomed the outcome of the meeting in Brussels and said there was now a "clear strategy and process" in place which he hopes would result in a successful conclusion by this weekend.

He said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would apply for a new bailout programme today and would put "detailed proposals on the table" by tomorrow at the latest.

He said the new deal was discussed in a "very frank manner" but there was a strong commitment among all European leaders to keep Greece in the eurozone.

"Everybody at the table wants this resolved quickly, but time is now of the essence," Mr Kenny said as he left the meeting last night. "The situation is more complex and difficult now than it was before the referendum."

Mr Tsipras told leaders at the meeting that all of Greece's political parties, apart from the fascist party Golden Dawn, agreed that there was a need to redefine the relationship between the country and the rest of the EU, said Mr Kenny.

"Everyone is of the hope that this matter can be discussed, negotiated and resolved by the weekend. It is very necessary to deal with the consequences of instability that are now affecting the ordinary people of Greece," the Taoiseach said.

Earlier, Finance Minister Michael Noonan insisted Ireland has never taken a "hardline approach" to the Greek debt crisis.

As he backed calls for a restructuring of the country's billion euro bailout loans, Mr Noonan said he would do whatever he could to ensure Greece remained in the eurozone.

"I have always said that Ireland wants Greece to stay in the eurogroup and we are prepared to negotiate - and we see restructuring of the debt as part of the negotiations," he said.

Mr Noonan said there was several debt restructuring options available to Greece and highlighted the path taken by Ireland in renegotiating its bailout programme.

"You will recall we got extended maturities twice, we got reduced interest rates...We got a total re-engineering of the promissory note," he said.

"We got permission to refinance the IMF loans. We actually paid off the €18.5bn of IMF loans and refinanced on the market."

He said he hoped a "sustainable" Greek programme could be reached.

Irish Independent

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