Greece resumes talks with creditors

Finance minister meets troika - EU, IMF and ECB - to discuss next installment of bailout, due to be paid next month.

    Greece resumes talks with creditors
    Greek unions held protests earlier this month, and have called for general strikes later this week [Reuters]

    Greece has resumed talks with its creditors to review progress in stabilising the indebted country's finances, as it awaited its next installment of bailout money.

    The Finance Minister, Yannis Stournaras, met for more than four hours on Sunday with representatives of the so-called troika of creditors: the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

    At stake is the continuation of the financing of Greece by the creditors, including a 1 billion euro ($1.35bn) bailout installment to be paid in October.

    In order to get this aid, Greece must finalise plans for the restructuring of three defence-related industries, which the EU wants liquidated, and complete furloughs of abouot 12,500 civil servants by the end of September.

    It must also pay back state debt to two major state-owned water companies that will later be privatised, and reform the lawyers' professional practice code, notably removing a requirement for a lawyer to be involved in the drawing up of contracts.

    This latter change was approved by parliament earlier this week, but the other three items are still pending.

    The government faces intense opposition by public unions on the issue of furloughs. Public school teachers will strike on Monday and Tuesday, having rejected by a small margin a proposal for a five-day strike; municipal employees will also strike on same days.

    The public sector union umbrella union, ADEDY, has called for all its members to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the General Confederation of Greek Labor (GSEE), which represents private sector employees, has called for a general strike on Tuesday.

    Talks with the troika will continue throughout next week and are then expected to resume in mid-October. Talks later this year are expected to focus on the possibility of securing better terms on Greece's loans by forgiving part of the debt, providing new loans on better terms or a combination of both.

    Greece hopes that after Sunday's election, the new German government will relax its firm opposition to forgiving part of the debt.


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