The distance between the Greek government and its lenders appears to be growing, with creditors putting more pressure on Athens as technical talks appear to have stalled.
After dancing around the issue for the last few weeks, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will meet Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, March 23, with the Greek government hoping that the talks could help lead to a so-called “political solution” between Greece and its lenders.
The Greek government, which is entering its seventh week in power, is due to pass its first legislation in Parliament this week as technical talks with lenders aimed at agreeing a set of reforms continue for the second week.
As much as it tries, the Greek government cannot escape the issue of if it will consider holding a referendum in the near future to decide whether to accept the next deal that is put on the table by the country’s lenders.
Representatives of the Greek government and the country’s lenders were due to begin technical discussions in Brussels on Wednesday against a backdrop of rising tension between Athens and Berlin.
While the language and tone of eurozone finance ministers’ comments regarding Greece before and after Monday’s Eurogroup was negative, the outcome of the meeting left Athens in no worse a position than it started the day but with a huge amount of work to do over the coming days and weeks.
Preparations for Monday’s Eurogroup, when eurozone finance ministers will have their first opportunity to respond to Greece’s initial reform proposals, took an unexpected twist on Sunday following a report that the government in Athens might consider a referendum.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras presided over the first meeting of New Democracy’s parliamentary group on Thursday but the mood during the gathering suggests that conservative unity will be tested in the days to come.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is expected to present six reform proposals to the Eurogroup on Monday. The content of these proposals has started to emerge.
Amid the tense negotiations between the government and Greece’s lenders as well as the scramble to cover the funding needs for March, the plight of the country’s opposition parties has gone largely unnoticed.