Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras has said his country is in the final, critical stretch of talks with its international creditors and that he believes an interim deal will be in place by May 9.
Greece’s objective was to find an agreement this week or next week at the latest, Alexis Tsipras said in a marathon TV interview on April 27.
Alexis Tsipras defended Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was sidelined from Greece’s negotiating team on April 27.
However, the prime minister admitted mistakes had been made in talks with EU partners.
Greece’s negotiators have so far failed to satisfy the country’s international creditors with the scope of economic reforms required before the EU hands over the latest €7.2 billion tranche of the bailout, which the government needs to pay its bills.
Yanis Varoufakis was left isolated at an EU finance ministers meeting in Latvia on April 24, skipping a state dinner and tweeting a line from late US President Franklin Roosevelt.
Describing Yanis Varoufakis as an important asset for Greece, Alexis Tsipras argued that he had annoyed his European colleagues because he spoke their language better than they did.
From now on, Greece’s negotiations will be led by another economist in the government, Euclid Tsakalotos.
In his three-hour appearance on Greece’s Star TV, Alexis Tsipras acknowledged there was a “negative atmosphere” surrounding the talks but he suggested it was all a standard part of negotiations.
Alexis Tsipras was also critical of the government’s European negotiating partners, accusing them of reneging on a verbal commitment in February to allow Greek banks to finance the government.
“I believe we are close. I believe that if no-one wants to undermine or torpedo [the talks] we are close to an accepted package,” he said.
There would be concessions, the prime minister said, such as the part privatization of Piraeus port and the leasing of 14 regional airports.
Greece is facing a €200 million debt interest payment to the IMF on May 1st and has appealed to various public bodies to provide money from their cash reserves.
The big debt interest payment to the IMF is due on May 12, when the Greek government will have to find another €750 million.
Almost half the international investors surveyed by German research group Sentix believe Greece will leave the euro in the next 12 months.
Sentix’s break-up index for Greece rose from 35.5% in March to 48.8% in April, based on a survey of around 1,000 investors.
Alexis Tsipras rejected the idea of snap elections if EU talks failed but he did say that a referendum could be held on a final deal.