Greece to lobby EU, ECB for swift loan payout

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2015 2:06 PM
Greece to lobby EU, ECB for swift loan payout

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's cash-strapped government said Monday it was seeking the swift release of delayed bailout money to keep up with its debt payments, following weekend progress in negotiations with creditors.

The new left-wing government is struggling to deliver economic reforms and budget measures demanded by creditors to unlock the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($7.7 billion) in its bailout fund.

Deputy Prime Minister Giannis Dragasakis was to meet in Frankfurt on Tuesday with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, while Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was to meet in Brussels with Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, officials said.

Without the money, Greece faces the possibility of going bankrupt in the coming weeks, putting up controls on the free flow of capital or seeking an exit from the euro currency used by 19 European Union nations. Its next big repayment is 750 million euros due to the International Monetary Fund on May 12.

"At this moment, the government is discussing, it is negotiating, and there has been significant progress at these negotiations," Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said. "The government is awaiting and expecting the release of funds, and for this liquidity to be made available not at the end of May but as soon as possible."

A eurozone official said finance ministers from the eurozone would take stock of the situation at their regular meeting Monday and possibly "go beyond that if" talks in Brussels are fruitful this week. The official, who did not want to be identified because the talks were ongoing, said the negotiations were finally "in full swing."

Officials did not want to be pinned down on where advances have been made but Athens has previously noted progress on tax reform, privatization and changes to the country's bureaucracy.

Greek Labor Minister Panos Skourletis told private Mega television the IMF was pressing Athens to phase out state support for several pension funds, maintain a low minimum wage and slash various pension payments.

"The choice is for the country to repay its obligations and to reach an agreement. That is our choice, our choice hasn't changed," he said. "If that is not achievable, it will not be this side that has the largest portion of responsibility."

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Casert reported from Brussels. AP writer Derek Gatopoulos contributed.

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