Talks in Brussels: Tsipras warns IMF, Germany to stop ‘playing with fire’

Months of feuding with the IMF has raised fears of new debt crisis in Greece

February 11, 2017

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday warned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to “stop playing with fire” in the handling of his country’s debt.

Opening a meeting of his Syriza party, Tsipras said he was confident a solution would be found, a day after talks between Greece and its creditors ended in Brussels with no breakthrough.

He urged a change of course from the IMF. “We expect as soon as possible that the IMF revises its forecast…so that discussions can continue at the technical level.”

Referring to Schaeuble, Tsipras also called for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to “encourage her finance minister to end his permanent aggressiveness” towards Greece.

Months of feuding with the IMF has raised fears of a new debt crisis. Greece is embroiled in a row with its eurozone paymasters and the IMF over debt relief and budget targets that has rattled markets and revived talk of its place in the euro.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said progress had been made in the Brussels talks with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and other EU and IMF officials.

But he provided few details.

The Athens government faces debt repayments of €7.0 billion ($7.44 billion) this summer that it cannot afford without defusing the feud that is holding up new loans from Greece’s €86 billion bailout.

Breaking the stalemate in the coming weeks is seen as paramount with elections in the Netherlands on March 15 and France in April through June threatening to make a resolution even more difficult.

But Dijsselbloem warned Friday that the next meeting of eurozone ministers on February 20 – seen as an unofficial deadline ahead of the votes – would still be too early for a breakthrough.

“We will take stock of the further progress (during that meeting),” said Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2017.

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