Antonis Samaras and Francois Hollande to hold key Paris talk on Greece bailout
Greece’s Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is expected to repeat his plea for more time to implement reforms when he meets French President Francois Hollande.
The talks in Paris come a day after Antonis Samaras asked for his country to be given “breathing space” during talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Angela Merkel said she wanted Athens to remain in the eurozone but expected it to stick to the tough bailout terms.
The French leader is now likely to echo that message, correspondents say.
Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande met on Thursday to discuss Greece and urged Athens to stick with the tough reforms.
On Greece, the two leaders seem to be on the same page.
In Paris, Antonis Samaras is expected to call for more time to reduce the deficit, given the worse-than-expected recession and months lost this year due to elections, our correspondent says.
He adds that the Greek government is under pressure to win a concession from Europe so as to placate this tired nation and lessen the likelihood of a destabilizing period of social unrest.
After Friday’s talks with Angela Merkel in Berlin, Antonis Samaras said: “Greece will stick to its commitments and fulfill its obligations. In fact, this is already happening.
“We’re not asking for more money,” he said, adding that Greece needed “time to breathe”.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission – the group of donor bodies known collectively as the “troika” – are examining whether Greece is making sufficient progress towards reforming its public finances.
Greece’s continued access to the bailout packages depends on a favorable report from the trio, and an official report is due to be released next month.
Greece is currently trying to finalize a package of 11.5 billion euros ($14.4 billion) of spending cuts over the next two years.
It is also being asked to put in place economic and structural reforms, including changes to the labor market and a renewed privatization drive.
The measures are needed to qualify for the next 33.5 billion-euro installment of its second 130 billion-euro bailout.
Greece needs the funds to make repayments on its debt burden. A default could result in the country leaving the euro.
Antonis Samaras is seeking an extension of up to two years for the necessary reforms, in order to provide Greece with the growth needed to improve its public finances.