Greece in new reform pledge to Europe
Greece agreed Friday to give creditors a new list of reforms to get its bailout back on track after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held crunch talks with European leaders.
Brussels: Greece agreed Friday to give creditors a new list of reforms to get its bailout back on track after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held crunch talks with European leaders.
They agreed to finish work "as fast as possible" on completing Greece`s EU-IMF rescue programme, a statement said, to free up crucial funds to help Athens avoid bankruptcy and a catastrophic exit from the euro.
The radical left-wing Greek leader sat down for a three-hour meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Francois Hollande and the EU`s top officials on the sidelines of a summit in Brussels.
"We have put the process back on track," a tired-looking Tsipras told reporters after the talks.
Merkel -- who as leader of Europe`s biggest economy has led efforts to make Greece honour its commitments -- said she and Hollande were "fully in line" with the agreement.
"The Greek prime minister declared that he is willing to present such a list and that he will do so quickly," she told a press conference.
Greece`s creditors agreed in February to extend its $240-billion-euro ($255 billion) bailout in exchange for promises of austerity reforms by Tsipras`s new hard-left government.
Athens wants the final seven-billion-euro tranche of the money to be paid out now to stay afloat, but Brussels wants more evidence of its commitment to the reforms.Time was running out for Athens as Friday brings a key debt deadline when Greece must pay 300 million euros to the IMF and redeem 1.6 billion euros in treasury bills.
"Greek authorities will have the ownership of the reforms and will present a full list of specific reforms in the next days," said the statement issued after the talks.
Hollande urged Greece "to be more precise in its reform proposals and introduce them faster than planned."
Technical talks in Athens and Brussels which had largely stalled over the seemingly insurmountable differences between the two sides will continue as before, the statement added.
The deal is the latest in a series aimed at narrowing differences between the new Greek government, with its desire to cast aside the shackles of austerity under two previous bailouts, and sceptical creditors.
European alarm and frustration mounted after the Greek parliament adopted a crisis bill aimed at helping the poor on Wednesday, which lenders say violated its commitments to creditors.
Tsipras warned earlier that Greece faced a "humanitarian crisis" if it did not get some of the cash it says is owed to it under the bailout programme that started in 2012.
Greece was not formally on the agenda of the full meeting of the 28 EU leaders but it nevertheless eclipsed other topics such as Ukraine and the EU`s new energy union plan.
The separate Greece meeting was also attended by EU president Donald Tusk, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs the euro single currency group.The Greek crisis has opened both new and historic tensions in the 28-nation EU, which when taken together has a population of 500 million and is the world`s largest economy.
Greece has angered Berlin by demanding World War II reparations, but Germany`s minister for European affairs paved the way to a compromise Thursday by saying Berlin may increase its contribution to a German-Greek fund.
Meanwhile Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg complained to former Polish premier Tusk that they had been frozen out of the mini-summit. "I am angry," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
The EU leaders meanwhile agreed that sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine crisis should last until the end of the year.
Tusk said the duration would be "clearly linked to complete implementation" of February`s Minsk peace accords, "bearing in mind that this is only foreseen by the end of 2015."
A formal decision to roll over the sanctions must still be agreed on by the 28 EU leaders, most probably at a summit in June.
The Minsk accord is the basis of a shaky ceasefire in eastern Ukraine between Kiev and pro-Kremlin rebels.
The sanctions were imposed after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 last July.