EU summit in the Latvian capital, Riga.
The French and German leaders have held fresh debt talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as Athens and its creditors are working to forge a bailout deal ahead of a crucial June deadline.
A French presidential aide said Friday that Tsipras held “friendly and constructive” talks with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the EU summit in the Latvian capital, Riga.
The source added that the three sides have “agreed on the need for the Greek authorities to keep working with the three institutions,” referring to Athens’ troika of international lenders – the European Union, the European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Greece has been under pressure by its creditors to make reforms in its labor market as well as in pensions and taxation policies in exchange for a new bailout loan.
Following the talks, Hollande said it was up to the EU to find a solution to Greece’s financial crisis, and that the trilateral talks in Latvia would only help facilitate reaching an agreement.
“It will not be here, in Riga, that we will negotiate the question of Greece, but it is true that it allows us to prepare for the upcoming deadline, particularly for the Eurogroup meeting at the end of the month or in early June,” the French president said.
“Along with Mr Tsipras, we want to find solutions that will give confidence and release the… funds,” stated Hollande, adding, “We (France and Germany) are working to make things easier, and at the same time to pass on some messages that are useful for Greece and for Europe.”
Reports say that the Greek premier plans to meet President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday after the EU summit for further talks.
On May 12, Athens tapped into money from its emergency funds to meet a due debt of 750-million-euro (USD-845-million) payment to the IMF.
Athens is currently in talks with the EU, the ECB and the IMF to receive a 7.2-billion-euro (USD-7.9-billion) loan remaining from bailout funds promised to the country. The lenders are refusing to grant the loan unless Greece agrees to its terms.
Greece received two bailout packages in 2010 and 2012 worth a total of €240 billion (USD 272 billion) from the troika following its 2009 economic crisis. However, it has been unable to borrow on the international markets over the past few years due to high borrowing rates.
The administration of Tsipras, whose leftist Syriza party won January 25 elections, has tried to renegotiate the terms of the country’s bailout it received in return for imposing harsh austerity measures.
During his electoral campaign, Tsipras vowed to reconsider the austerity measures, which have triggered a wave of unemployment and poverty and mounting dissatisfaction in the country.