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Vast gap remains in EU-Greece debt talks despite new measures

Vast gap remains in EU-Greece debt talks despite new measures
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While EU institutions remain closed until Tuesday because of the Easter holidays, negotiations with Greece about its latest reform plan are to resume next week in Athens.

Reporting from Brussels, our correspondent Efi Koutsokosta says EU officials think there is still a big distance between the two sides and that EU finance chiefs might not meet until April 24th.

Despite the submission of a raft of new reforms on Wednesday, EU technocrats still doubt whether Greece’s forecast of 6 billion in extra revenues will be achievable.

The proposals include plans to create a ‘bad bank’ to isolate its highest risk debts as well as new measures to tackle tax evasion

But the EU is pushing Athens to do more to restructure social security, the labour market and offer up more public enterprises for privatisation, which Greece’s leaders have vowed to challenge.

Athens must make a payment of 450 million euros to the IMF on April 9th.

With negotiations so split, two Greek ministers warned creditors that if there is no agreement, the IMF will not be paid on time, something a government spokesman quickly rebuffed.

At a fragile moment in the talks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will travel to Moscow next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin, just days after his energy minister paid a visit for talks on gas supplies.

Athens seems determined to improve relations with Russia despite EU nervousness.

Mina Andreeva- EU Commission spokesperson played down the tensions with Brussels:

“I would like to draw your attention to what commissioner Moscovici has said. And he has said ‘Why should Mr Tsipras not have a good relation with Putin?’ I have no comment to make on this but it’s clear that Russia is not an alternative for Greece. Greece is in the eurozone and we do not need to worry.”

In a recent interview with the Russian news agency TASS, Tsipras described the EU’s sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis as “pointless”.