ATHENS (Reuters) – The Greek government said Wednesday that work on drafting a draft agreement with the creditors had begun, paving the way for the release of financial assistance, but European officials quickly denied the remarks, saying it is rather wishful thinking.
Without agreement between Greece and its lenders on a program reforms, Athens may default in payment or bankruptcy, in the space of a few weeks.
Greece must repay € 300 million to the International Monetary Fund on June 5 and several government officials say that it lacks the means to do so.
Further discussions were started in Brussels on Wednesday and a senior Greek government official said Greece and its creditors had started drafting a project agreement along the lines of Athens, who does not want to hear about a reduction of wages and pensions and wants a low primary surplus target at first.
“In Group Brussels today, the procedures for drafting an agreement at the beginning negotiators, “said he said in reference to the talks between Athens, the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He added that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would be in constant contact with other leaders to reach an agreement.
The Vice President of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis, however, said that Greece and its creditors were still far from agreement. “We are working very intensively in order to allow an agreement at the expert level. We have not yet reached,” said he said.
Other officials in the euro area were more direct. One of them said that the remarks of Athens made no sense. Another said: “If only it were true”
Speaking from Dresden, where there is a meeting of finance ministers of the Group of Seven (G7), a source in the delegation. German said that things had not progressed to seal the deal.
The German Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has also said in an interview on ARD television that the negotiations had not many advanced and was surprised by the optimism of Greek officials.
“We hear all these positive news from Greece is good “said he said. “But realistically, we have not made much progress in negotiations between the three institutions and the Greek government.”
“This is why I am surprised by what is said in Athens all the time, especially that we are close to an agreement. “
The president of finance ministers group, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said for his part that Greece should try harder if she wanted to reach an agreement.
“They really provide greater efforts to reach the finish line,” said he told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting of G7 finance ministers in Dresden.
“They have always been more optimistic,” he added.
Greek side, Tsakalotos Euclid, Greek Deputy Foreign Minister, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the two sides not only discussed the closure conditions of the current aid program but also the conditions for additional help.
“The two negotiating processes are now combined, almost of them -Same “he he said, adding that the final decision on new aid for Greece and its economic future would take place within two weeks.
Alexis Tsipras himself said that his government was in “final round” discussions and that the terms of an agreement would be presented shortly.
“We are in the final round, it is clear that the calm and determination s’ impose “said he told reporters after a ministerial meeting on the discussions. “We are not the only ones involved, we deal with three different agencies often have different views,” he he said.
The US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew called the puor share Greece’s creditors to exercise more flexibility in order to avoid a default and an exit from the euro zone, which would have incalculable consequences.
“My concern is not the absence good will of the parties – I do not think anyone wants a failure – but (…) an error of assessment could lead to a crisis that would be potentially very damaging, “said he said in London to students at the London School of Economics
. “The challenge for Europeans, political and economic institutions – the IMF – is to be flexible,” said he added before go to Dresden to the G7 meeting.
(Deepa Babington, Michelle Martin, Jan Strupczewski in Brussels and Renee Maltezou in Athens, Marc Angrand, Wilfrid Exbrayat and Juliette Rouillon for the French service)