Greece and troika spar over Athens' finance gap

Greece and troika spar over Athens' finance gap
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Greece interrupted its ongoing negotiations with the troika of lenders on Thursday to hold talks with its eurozone counterparts amid a row over its 2014 budget projections.

Officials in Athens were quoted by AFP as saying talks to unlock a one billion euro installment of aid may last until Christmas.

Its international creditors estimate next year’s budget gap will be from 2.0 to 2.5 billion euros.

Athens says it will be just over 500 million euros.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told reporters in Brussels that “nobody can deny the progress that Greece has achieved so far”.

Greece has rejected new tax hikes and further wage or pension cuts, our correspondent in Brussels says.

“A big problem for the negotiations between Greece and the troika is the way of financing the fiscal gap of 2014,” reports Euronews’ Efi Koutsokosta.

“Athens points to its primary surplus, saying it cannot afford any other measures.”

But there was good news for Dublin.

Ireland will exit its bailout program without a precautionary credit line, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Thursday.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the move proved that “our policy of stabilising and defence of the single currency was successful and correct”.

He added that Spain will exit its bank support programme “by the end of the year.”

Madrid has said it does not intend to seek any more emergency loans, apart from the €41 billion already provided to bolster its banking sector.

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