Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos met representatives of Greece’s European creditors and the International Monetary Fund, following a two-week Easter break. The main sticking points in the long-dragging talks are mandated new pension cuts, tax reforms and future cuts Greece is under pressure to make to meet bailout targets.
Tsakalotos said afterwards that the “introductory” meeting focused on how talks would proceed over the coming week, and that the leaked IMF conference call was not brought up by either side.
Outside the Athens hotel where the talks were held, about 200 members of Greece’s main civil servants’ union, ADEDY and leftwing party supporters held a peaceful protest, chanting “Greeks, fight back, the European Union and the IMF are drinking your blood.” ADEDY has called a 24-hour strike and protest march Thursday against the proposed new cutbacks.
Greece has depended on bailouts since it lost access to market funding in 2010. Last summer, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s left-led government performed a policy U-turn and signed a third rescue loan agreement worth about 86 billion euros. But regular disbursal of the funds depends on how bailout creditors assess the government’s implementation of agreed reforms and cutbacks.
Monday’s talks were overcast by the WikiLeaks organization’s weekend publication of the alleged IMF call transcript. The text confirmed divisions between the IMF — which is more hawkish on the extent of required austerity measures — and European creditors over the bailout, with the IMF pressing for a deal to substantially relieve Greece’s crippling debt burden, an idea the Europeans treat with little enthusiasm.