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Tough troika talks over latest Greek bailout loan tranche

Tough troika talks over latest Greek bailout loan tranche
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Greece resumed bailout talks this week with its international lenders.

Described by a senior Finance Ministry official as “tough” with a lot of issues still open, the talks are supposed to end six months of wrangling over paying new rescue loans.

If Athens does not get that money it could default on more than nine billion euros of government bonds which come due in May.

They cannot agree about savings and reforms the European Union and International Monetary Fund want.

The Greek government, keen not to upset voters in upcoming elections, is hanging tough.

Delaying matters further is a row between Athens and the international lenders over how much additional capital Greece’s top four banks need to cope with future bad loans.

It is not clear if an agreement can be reached before an early March deadline when eurozone finance ministers are supposed to sign off on the deal.

Symela Touchtidou, the euronews business reporter in Athens, said: “The Greek government wants to complete the negotiations before the March Eurogroup meeting, so the next instalment can be paid, opening the way for Athens to borrow again on the financial markets. But – ahead of local and European elections in May – it doesn’t want more austerity measures, or to have to reverse promises for distributing money from its primary budget surplus.”

The fragile coalition led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras needs tangible recovery signs to face down an increasingly confident anti bailout opposition, leading in the polls.

A poor showing at the municipal and European elections in May might destabilise the government, threatening to curtail its four-year term ending in mid-2016.

Greece’s main opposition party Syriza has said it will try to trigger early elections in spring 2015 by blocking the election of a new president.