Greece says bailout deal close, Juncker says it's on shaky ground

Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:32am EST
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By Karolina Tagaris and Joseph Nasr

ATHENS/BERLIN (Reuters) - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned international lenders on Saturday not to heap new burdens on his country but said he believed the drawn-out bailout review with them would end well.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, however, said the deal was "on shaky ground" because the International Monetary Fund had not decided what role it would play.

The comments came a day after Greece and its international lenders made clear progress towards bridging differences over Athens's fiscal path in coming years, moving closer to a deal that would secure new loan disbursements and save the country from default.

"(The review) will be completed, and it will be completed positively, without concessions in matters of principle," Tsipras told a meeting of his leftist Syriza party on Saturday.

But further cutbacks, particularly to pensions which have already gone through 11 cuts since the start of the Greek debt crisis in 2010, would be hard to swallow.

"We are ready to discuss anything within the framework of the (bailout) agreement and within reason, but not things beyond the framework of the agreement and beyond reason," Tsipras said. "We will not discuss demands which are not backed up by logic and by numbers."

He warned all sides to "be more careful towards a country that has been pillaged and people who have made, and are continuing to make, so many sacrifices in the name of Europe".

Accepting more reforms is fraught with difficulties in Greece which has only just emerged from a multi-year recession brought on by the debt crisis and the austerity demanded in exchange for the bailouts.   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras adjusts his shirt collar as he sits next to Deputy Prime Minister Giannis Dragasakis (C) and Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas before his speech at the ruling Syriza party central committee in Athens, Greece February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis