Friday, February 20, 2015

Eurozone in vital talks on Greece bailout proposal (Finance ministers to hold their third meeting on debt crisis)

Greece has asked its European creditors to extend its bailout loan for six months while it negotiates a new deal.

But Germany has rejected the request and tense last-minute negotiations will resume on Friday morning.

Greece has dropped key demands for the bailout settlement, but still faces stiff opposition from lead lender Germany, which criticised its latest proposals as a "Trojan horse" designed to dodge its commitments.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed to hold their third meeting on the Greek debt crisis in just over a week after Greece formally requested a six-month extension of loan agreements with rescue creditors that expire this month.

Going back on recent election campaign pledges, Alexis Tsipras' new left-wing government said it would honour debt obligations and agree to continued supervision from bailout lenders and the European Central Bank.

Bridge financing

Late Thursday, the Greek prime minister held telephone conversations with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel after Germany sharply criticised the Greek offer during preparatory talks in Brussels.

Greek media, including state television, widely quoted a German representative at the talks as saying the Greek offer "rather represents a Trojan horse, intending to get bridge financing and in substance putting an end to the current programme".

The comments were confirmed by a senior official in the Greek Finance Ministry who could not be identified because the talks in Brussels were not public.

In Berlin, government officials did not comment publicly on the remarks, but told the Associated Press they accurately reflected the German government position.

Germany argues that Greece has failed to provide detailed alternatives to cost-cutting measures imposed by the previous government that helped the country balance its budget after decades of excessive borrowing.

Greek and European markets were largely unaffected by the German response. Europe's Stoxx 50 index rising 0.64 percent, but Athens is under increasing pressure to break the impasse with lenders.

Unemployment surge

Although Greece emerged from the recession with a primary budget surplus last year, it faces a surge in debt repayment in 2015, with hopes of a full return to markets hit by renewed uncertainty and a resulting surge borrowing rates.

Tsipras defeated traditionally dominant political parties in January 25 elections, promising to scrap bailout agreements and supervision, and demand a massive write down of Greece's 240bn euro bailout debt so that his government could tackle a drastic surge in unemployment.

In its latest proposals on Thursday - carefully worded to avoid reference to the bailout agreement or "memorandum" - the Tsipras government scaled back those aims to seek more modest primary budget surpluses, budget-neutral growth measures, and calls for a deal later this year to improve bailout loan repayment terms.

Greek officials appeared visibly irritated by the latest German objections.

"All the conditions are there for a transition agreement to be achieved," Giannis Dragasakis, deputy prime minister, said.

"At this moment it appears that there are powers that would like Greece on its knees, exactly so they can impose their will."



  1. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Thursday praised bilateral cooperation between his country and China and sent best wishes to Chinese people for the Chinese Lunar New Year...

    "We will seek new ways of cooperation between the Greek state and the Chinese side," Tsipras said in a speech delivered at a reception hosted by the 18th escort fleet of the Chinese navy at Piraeus port.

    Tsipras said his government will support China's shipping conglomerate COSCO's investment at Piraeus port, as well as Chinese investments in other sectors across Greece.

    He expressed confidence that Piraeus port, as a key gateway for the delivery of Chinese products to Europe, can become a leading trade hub on a European and international level.

    Tsipras added that there was great potential for bilateral cooperation in transports, railways, as well as in the tourism and culture fields.

    The Prime Minister hailed the historical strong Sino-Greek ties, noting that cooperation, in particular in the maritime sector, was a solid basis for strengthening collaboration in other sectors in recent years.

    Chinese Ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli, Fleet Commander Rear Admiral Zhang Chuanshu and other Chinese officials welcomed the Greek leader and other dignitaries in the reception to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Thursday.

    Thursday's event was attended among others by Alternate Greek Shipping Minister Theodoris Dritsas, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos and Piraeus Port Authority chief Yorgos Anomeritis.

    Addressing the ceremony, Rear Admiral Zhang referred to Greece's help in the evacuation operation of thousands of Chinese nationals from war-torn Libya by Greek ships in recent years.

    "Greece will always stand by the side of Chinese people when needed," Tsipras said, underlining the significance of bilateral collaboration in such operations in Libya and in Albania in the past.

    Speaking to Xinhua, Greece's Defense Minister Panos Kammenos highlighted the significance of the cooperation of the two countries in the defensive sector.

    "The visit of the 18th escort fleet of the Chinese navy is a great honor. It proves that good cooperation between the two nations can continue, and apart from the business sector, it can be extended in the defense industry," he told Xinhua................

  2. Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Thursday called for strengthening bilateral ties between Greece and China and urged further cooperation between navies of the two countries...

    When meeting with Zhang chuanshu, commander of the 18th escort fleet of the Chinese navy and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the South China Sea fleet, Papoulias congratulated the Chinese fleet on the successful completion of the escort mission.

    The President said the fleet had contributed to ensuring the safety and freedom of dangerous sea routes, adding that increased exchange between the two navies should be encouraged.

    Papoulias also gave Zhang and his accompanying officials greetings for the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Thursday.

    China's recent growth was admirable, Papoulias said. He commended China's advocacy for peace, harmony and a multi-polarized world, saying he appreciated the important role China has played in maintaining world peace.

    Papoulis pointed out that China's shipping giant COSCO is currently developing the port of Piraeus into the largest port in the Mediterranean area, an objective that would benefit not only Greece but also all other countries in the area. Papoulias stressed that great potential lies in Sino-Hellenic cooperation in the area of shipping and looked forward to further strengthening cooperation for the benefit of both peoples in the coming year.

    The meeting was also attended by the Chinese ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli.

    The 18th Chinese naval escort fleet arrived in the Greek port of Piraeus on Monday, commencing a four-day goodwill visit. The fleet is scheduled to depart for China on Friday.

  3. Greece crisis: Eurozone set for vital loan talks....

    Eurozone finance ministers are preparing for a vital third meeting, in Brussels, to try to solve the crisis over Greece's bail-out.

    Greece has put forward a proposal for a six-month extension of its Eurozone loan programme instead of renewing its existing bailout deal, which comes with harsh austerity measures.

    But Germany has already rejected this.

    The existing bailout deal expires at the end of the month and Greece could run out of money without a new accord.............


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