Negotiations for Greek agreement have taken ‘sudden, positive turn’
There has been a sudden, positive change in the Brussels Group, during the final stretch in efforts to achieve an agreement between the Greek government and its partners, a source in Brussels reported on Friday.
According to the source, there were only “very few elements left” on which a substantive solution had yet to be found, so that an agreement can be reached.
all three institutions in the talks were “working on one main scenario,” which was that Greece should remain in the eurozone.
Summary: Greece optimistic, creditors not so much
Time for a recap:
Greece’s top negotiator has predicted that political intervention will be needed to finally close a deal with creditors, as time continues to tick away.
Euclid Tsakalotos told us today that the two sides are converging, but also criticised the International Monetar Fund for being “very very tough”.
In Athens, the Greek government has declared it hopes to get a deal by Sunday.
But creditors have both questioned this optimism; the IMF is insisting on sweeping reforms and credible surplus targets, while the European Commission warns that more work must be done.
In the last few minutes, Christine Lagarde warned that a deal is very unlikely to come soon.
The European Central Bank piled more pressure on, saying that the financial markets could be rocked if the Greek crisis ends badly.
Greece has loomed over a meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs in Dresden
Greece is coming closer to a deal with lenders, while the “torture of the drop” of a four months plus pending for a deal is continuing … Visit our updated Page
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Agreement comes within a few days, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced today to the Greeks a day after the Riga summit, where the French the German leaders agreed on the significant progress achieved so far by the new government and the negotiations’ team, as was announced, and focused more, concentrated, to the open issues of the negotiation.
Alexis recieved a friendship attack in Riga, where they greeted him with smiles, hugs, flowers and silk . “Climate was so friendly” , as Greek PM stated in Riga to the press. Hugs from Eurogroup President , sweet smiles from the Chancellor, flowers to host his presence, and also … “silk for the seal “.
In a more than warm, hearty welcome that was waiting the Greek leader on the Eurogroup summit this time, Alexis Tsipras definitely took a breath from the unstoppable four months’ soul-and-mind daily attacks a whole nation recieved since the very first day of Alexis’ governance.
Surrounded by the cute-and-teasing mood of the Euro leaders who seemed much more familiar this time, the PM stated openly optimistic and confident about Greee’s luck, feeling obviously relaxed after the critical meetings . And sure it was a relaxing breath for the tensed Greek feeling, which acted like an antidote to the “emergency-operational ” style of this specific PM trip to Riga, where to he flew on a Greek Airforces’ C130 plane, instead of the PM’s airplane that lies immobilised on the ground, having run out of fuel, consequently to the country’s out of cash.
But the “special -effect” that sealed the Riga summit, came, unexpectedly to the world’s eyes, by the cute semiology gesture of Jean Claude Juncker, when he probed his tie on Alexis when the camera flashes lighted up .
It was not the first time that “tieless Alexis”,- who has swore to wear a tie only when the dept Greece’s problem will be resolved-, made headlines. Earlier attempt to “tie him with tie” was made by the PM of our “Master in Style” neighbor, Italy, Prime Minister Mateo Renzi, on Februry 3, when he offered in Rome Alexis a black tie, as a diplomatic visit etiquette “We want to give a hand to Greece,” Renzi had said. “But we also want the moment to come for Greece to be out of the crisis, and when that moment comes, Alexis will use an Italian tie”
Indeed, the talks in Riga this time on top European political level, were about the exiting crisis prospect of Greece, as was officaly stated, and Jean Claude Juncker probably took the chance in front of the cameras to show it to the world. Greece is definitely in a rush to reach an agreement, since national liquidity problem has “freeze- framed” the daily life all around the country, with cash being missing almost nowhere.
And here comes “the most harsh phrase this gov has heard till now”, as many politicians commented today, the President of IMF Chrisitne Laggarde’s phrase from overseas on Greece’s agreement to come. Warning Greece and the eurolenders’ side, Christine Laggarde asked for a carefull, in detail work on the terms of the agreement, using though, -may be accidentally- a negative expression to say it , which Greeks, understood as a negative comment on the proceedure of the negotiations, and also understood it word-by- word and not as an expression
“It has to be a comprehensive approach, not a quick and dirty job,” Ms Lagarde told an audience in Rio.
“I know there is a lot of work to be done. Parties are now working, receiving proposals, working in cooperation and we will continue to do so as fast as we can.”
“Quick and dirty”? Enough is enough, immediately everybody said .The statement was playing on tv over and over again, by the comments of Greek media insisting that Christine Laggarde had a negative view on the negotiations’ matters, even though the Prime Minister said clearly Saturday morning that agreement will be made within the next days. By the exhaustion of a whole country for five+ years, and the torture of no cash nationwide for a four+months, suspicions arose once again. The public feeling turned again against a proposed by the lenders’ side agreement, if this would be, once again, going to be unfair .
“The Greek people support our government on this hard try for an agreement for the country, because they know, all of them , that for the first time on the negotiations’ table there is not only one side. There are two sides, and one of them is doing its best to bring Greeks their life back,” Alexis Tsipras said on his speech to the Central Comittee of SYRIZA party today .
The Greek prime minister set the issue of the country’s perspective for exiting the crisis if a long term deal is reached, on the trilateral meeting with President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel in Riga, according to top Greek governmental sources, the ANA-MPA Friday wrote .The Athens News Agency also said that on the meeting the the terms of the agreement were discussed, as was also and the next day after the agreement , which let Alexis Tsipras express his optimism to the journalists in Riga.
On their part, Merkel and Hollande noted that they understand the need for such a deal, and expressed their willingness to help, even on personal level, as to reach soon to the agreement. But the same moment Angela underlined that “A conclusion needs to be found with the three institutions and there needs to be very, very intensive work”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande leaders
“I am optimistic that we can soon reach a stable, long-term and viable solution, without the mistakes of the past – and Greece will return to growth with cohesion.
The government is seeking for a comprehensive deal within the next ten days, government spokesman Gavriil Sakellaridis also said from Riga on Friday talking on Greek tv. Sakellaridis noted that the agreement will cover all issues, including labour and social security ones.
Asked whether Greece will retreat to the IMF’ harsh demands, he said that Athens has set its red lines and does not intend to take a step back on all those issues “in this manner.”
He confirmed that Greece’s creditors are asking for two VAT rates – 11 percent and 23 percent – adding that they have proposed the imposition of a 23 percent VAT on the energy sector. Greece has proposed three VAT rates – 7 percent, 14 percent and 22 percent.
Asked on debt issue and whether it will be included in the agreement, Sakellaridis told live on air that the Greek government has raised the issue from the very beginning. “It is an objective problem … and by no means can we say that it does not exist,” PM spokesman said, and added that whether it will be included in the agreement “will depend on how mature conditions are.”
One is for sure: Mature for the tie , Alexis will only then be…
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European plans for a military campaign to smash the migrant trafficking networks operating out of Libya include options for ground forces on Libyan territory.
The document , a 19-page strategy paper for the mission , obtained by the Guardian, speaks of possible operations to destroy traffickers’ assets “ashore”. This could include “action along the coast, in harbour or at anchor of smugglers assets and vessels before their use”.
The campaign’s aim is defined as “to disrupt the business model of the smugglers, achieved by undertaking systematic efforts to identify, seize/capture, and destroy vessels and assets before they are used by smugglers … The operation will need to be phased in and will be heavily dependent on intelligence.
“The mission is therefore defined to be ‘to provide surveillance, intelligence gathering and sharing, and assessment of smuggling activity towards and through the southern central Mediterranean area, and to stop, board, search and dispose of, possibly through their destruction, trafficking vessels and assets before use and thereby contribute to EU efforts to disrupt the business model of trafficking networks.”
The document speaks of possible operations to destroy traffickers’ assets “ashore”.
“A presence ashore might be envisaged if agreement was reached with relevant authorities,” says the paper which has to be endorsed by European Union foreign ministers before the mission is ordered by heads of government at an EU summit in June.
Subject to a UN go-ahead, the military operations would need to focus on actions“inside Libya’s internal and territorial waters and the coast”, the document says, while adding
that seizing and destroying vessels on the high seas or in international waters in the Mediterranean would also be mandated.
The planning document admits that the campaign could result in innocent people being killed: “Boarding operations against smugglers in the presence of migrants has a high risk of collateral damage including the loss of life.”
“The operation would require a broad range of air, maritime and land capabilities. These could include:
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; boarding teams; patrol units (air and maritime); amphibious assets; destruction air, land and sea, including special forces units.”
Senior diplomats and officials in Brussels, speaking privately about the military planning, have consistently stressed that there would be no prospect of “boots on the ground” in Libya. But it is clear from the detailed planning document that they might be needed and are not being ruled out.
Libyan militias, jihadi groups, and Islamic State affiliates believed to be in cahoots with the trafficking networks are said to have heavy artillery and anti-aircraft batteries deployed close to the coast. The Guardian adds that attacks on EU vessels and aircraft could trigger an escalation and force Nato to get involved, said policymakers in Brussels.
Following a visit to Beijing last week, Mogherini believes the Chinese will not block the mission at the security council, the guardian reported. Her staff are also confident that Russia can be persuaded against wielding its security council veto despite the intense animosity between Moscow and the west over the Ukraine conflict.