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Greece resumes talks with its creditors

Associated Press     September 23, 2013
Greece has resumed talks with its creditors to review progress in stabilising the indebted country's finances.

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 (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Talks with the troika will continue throughout next week and are then expected to resume in mid-October.

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

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

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.

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 Monday and Tuesday.

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.

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