Athens: The Greek government on Thursday expressed confidence that the country could reach an agreement with its creditors, even without convening Sunday's summit, as Greece's junior coalition partner said final touches on the proposed reforms' list were being made that Athens will table to lenders.
"We believe that we will have positive signs at the Eurogroup and that we proceed to an agreement," Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told private broadcaster ANT1 TV, according to the Greek Reporter, adding that if all goes well, the European Union summit on Sunday may not be necessary, Efe news agency reported on Thursday.
A draft is expected to be sent to Greek political leaders before being sent on to its European partners. The goal, Sakellaridis said, was to do the necessary preparatory work for the proposal so it would reach the Eurogroup with a guaranteed positive outcome. According to another report by Xinhua news agency, Greece's Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas on Thursday said a debt deal with lenders will be achieved by this weekend to avert a catastrophic default and a Greek exit from the European Union (EU).
"I am confident and I believe that even a bad agreement will lead to better results than the lack of any agreement," Mardas told Greek media, while the finance ministry once again extended bank holidays and capital controls from June 29 to July 13. When the measure was introduced to avoid a collapse of the banking system caused by the liquidity shortage, the current government had said that banks would reopen on July 7, should a deal with creditors be sealed.
As Athens continues a new round of negotiations with lenders, the bank holidays were extended to Wednesday and now to next Monday. The critical eurozone and EU summit in Brussels on Sunday will decide whether Greece will get a deal and stay in the eurozone or face an exit. For a second week, the 60-euro-per-bank-account ($66) withdrawal cap from ATMs has been maintained according to a ministerial decree.
Pensioners and the unemployed may draw up to 120 euros per week from around 1,000 bank branches nationwide. Holders of foreign debit and credit cards are exempted from the restrictions. In a statement to the media on Thursday, Greece's Bank Association chief Louka Katseli said that the country's banking sector has enough liquidity until Monday. Should a debt deal be struck by then and the Emergency Liquidity Mechanism resumed its support, the banking system would gradually start functioning normally again, she said.
Finance Minister Tsakalotos and his team are finishing the list of reforms that will be submitted to lenders by Friday morning in exchange for further aid. According to government sources, by Thursday afternoon the list will be distributed to the leaders of Greek political parties represented in the parliament, who since Wednesday night have been informed of the developments achieved by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
Greece's junior coalition partner also said on Thursday an agreement with creditors on the resolution of the country's debt crisis was close. "We are close to a deal. Everything will go smoothly and we will have a result quickly... I believe we could finish this even today," Panos Kammenos, defence minister and leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party, told local radio Real FM.
Greek media reports citing government sources reported that the third bailout Greece formally requested on Wednesday from the European Stability Mechanism would reach at least 70 billion euros (around $77 billion) over a three-year period and would include funds to recapitalise the ailing local banking sector once again since 2010. In particular, the reforms proposed list includes measures worth about 12 billion euros focusing on the taxation and pension systems, according to "Naftemporiki" (Shipping Industry News).
According to political analysts in Athens, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces the prospect of a "rebellion" within his Radical Left Syriza party's parliamentary group, should the terms of the deal be considered extremely painful by some lawmakers. Productive Reconstruction and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis said on Thursday that the goal was "a deal respecting people's dignity" and not a third bailout of "harsh austerity, suffering and deprivation".