Greece says EU-IMF rift stalling Greek debt solution

A rift between the EU and the International Monetary Fund on the way to tackle the Greek debt crisis is delaying its solution, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday. 

AFP| Updated: Sep 11, 2016, 21:47 PM IST

A rift between the EU and the International Monetary Fund on the way to tackle the Greek debt crisis is delaying its solution, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday. 

Leftist-led Greece is struggling to deliver on fresh reforms needed to unlock a further 2.8 billion euros ($3 billion) in bailout loans and more crucially, launch negotiations on debt relief later in the year.

"We are closer than ever before to a solution to this crisis. What is delaying the effort of regaining the trust of the markets is the constant disagreement between the European institutions and the IMF," Tsipras said during a press conference at the Thessaloniki International Fair. 

The Washington-based IMF, which was key to Greece`s three bailouts, has said it won`t give a penny to the latest one until it sees a concrete plan from the Europeans to cut substantially Greece`s massive debt burden.

The IMF and EU creditors disagree on just how much Athens can improve its finances through ongoing reforms.

"The IMF has set a deadline for the end of this year... A country that has gone through such a harsh adjustment can`t wait any longer. Its people are entitled to a fair solution of the debt issue," Greek PM said. 

On Saturday, some 14,000 people demonstrated in Thessaloniki, the second largest city of Greece, to protest against planned austerity measures. 

Tsipras said Greece should have already been included in the ECB`s quantitative easing programme -- a monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the economy when standard monetary policy has become ineffective.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem warned Athens on Friday to swiftly deliver on overdue reforms as its massive bailout programme fell off track triggering fears of a new row with Greece.

Athens has committed to deliver on the reforms by the end of the month. They include the long delayed launch of a massive privatisation fund and reforms in the highly sensitive energy sector.

The EU`s Economic Affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Greece must deliver on 15 reforms, with only two of those achieved so far.

Concerning the pending thorny labour reforms, Tsipras said that "the current European labour rights are the ally" of Greece in this negotiation. 

Asked whether the upcoming elections in Germany will interfere with the Greek programme, the premier said: "the negotiation isn`t an argument between Greece and Germany" but an "international issue". 

He hailed German Chancellor Angela Merkel`s "extremely positive stance" in the refugee crisis overwhelming Europe and said Turkey "largely respected" the refugee deal. 

"Europe needs Turkey and Turkey needs Europe in this", he said.