Greece in ‘final stretch’ of deal with creditors

Greece is in the “final stretch” of talks for a deal with creditors on a new bailout, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday in a television broadcast. 

“We are in the final stretch to conclude an agreement with the institutions,” Tsipras said. “Despite the difficulties, we hope this agreement can end uncertainty over the future of Greece and the Eurozone.”

Greece needs a deal that will unlock bailout funds by August 20, when it must repay around €3.4-billion due to the European Central Bank (ECB).

Head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that an agreement on the bailout was possible by this date.

“All the reports I am getting suggest an accord this month, preferably before the 20th,” said Juncker.

Tsipras is under pressure from a sizeable minority in his radical Syriza party, who say the rescue package he agreed to last month is austerity-oriented and goes against the government’s campaign pledges.

In two successive reform votes last month, more than 30 lawmakers from the ruling Syriza party refused to approve the measures.

With his popularity among Greeks still high, Tsipras has warned the dissidents of early elections in the northern hemisphere autumn if they continue to resist the measures.

“Elections are likely in the autumn,” government spokesperson Olga Gerovasili told Vima radio. “It mainly depends on how steady this government can be in the coming period.”

The ECB decided on Wednesday to leave its emergency credit lifeline for Greece unchanged for the next two weeks, said a source close to the matter who asked not to be identified.

The Frankfurt-based bank boosted its Emergency Liquidity Assistance for Greece’s struggling banks by €900-million to €90.4-billion last month, according to Bloomberg News, after Athens and its creditors reached an in-principle agreement for a third bailout in return for tough reforms.

A source said on Wednesday that the ECB’s executive board had agreed the level of support would remain steady for another two weeks although the ECB declined to comment. – AFP

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