Denials fly in war of nerves over Greek debt talks
By Renee Maltezou and Francesco Guarascio
ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Conflicting statements and denials flew between Athens and Brussels on Tuesday in a war of nerves highlighting the depth of mutual mistrust over a new round of negotiations on an 86 billion euro bailout that started this week.
Any hope of a fresh start in fraught relations between Greece's leftist government, purged of its most radical members, and the institutions representing its creditors, appeared to be dashed by the flurry of assertions and rebuttals.
Differences included the pace and conduct of bailout talks, whether or not Greece needs to enact further laws before a deal, the reopening of the Athens stock exchange, and the activities of former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who continues to heap abuse on the creditors in his blog.
The two sides couldn't even agree on when the talks began.
A Greek Finance Ministry official said the heads of the European Commission and International Monetary Fund delegations would arrive on Wednesday for talks on a third bailout program to keep Greece afloat in the euro zone. Technical negotiations would be wrapped up by Friday, with "follow up" discussions over the weekend under exceptional circumstances, he said.
"Both sides aim to reach a deal as soon as possible," the official said.
European Commission officials said European mission chiefs were already on the ground and talks had begun on Monday. But they made clear the creditors would not be stampeded into a rushed agreement without detailed reform commitments in writing.
Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said there was "no fixed deadline" for the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding, and if all parties kept to commitments made at a July 13 euro summit, "an agreement by the second fortnight of August is possible". Continued...