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Greece may be open to compromise
30 May 2015 10:10
Greece's government is confident of reaching a deal with its creditors this week and is open to pushing back parts of its anti-austerity programme to make that happen. Greece and its EU/IMF creditors have been locked in talks for months on a cash-for-reforms deal.
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Pressure is growing for a deal, since Athens risks default without aid from a bailout programme that expires on 30 June. Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said "We believe that we can and we must have a solution and a deal within the week," He did not elaborate on what parts of the ruling Syriza party's anti-austerity programme could be pushed back, but the comments suggested a greater willingness to compromise on pre-election pledges. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stormed to power in January on promises to cancel austerity, including restoring the minimum wage level and collective bargaining rights. The government earlier this week said it hoped for a deal by tomorrow, though international lenders have been less optimistic,citing Greece's resistance to labour and pension reforms that are conditions for more aid. Mr Voutsis said Athens and its partners agreed on some issues,such as achieving low primary budget surpluses in the first two years.
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But they still disagreed on a sales tax, with Greece pushing so any VAT hikes will not burden lower incomes. The debt stand-off between Greece and its European Union partners overshadowed a meeting of policymakers from the Group of Seven rich nations in Dresden, Germany, yesterday. The United States warned of a possible accident for the world economy if Greece and its creditors miss their June deadlines to avert a debt default. In an interview with Real news newspaper published today, Economy Minister George Stathakis said Athens had no alternative plan. "The idea of a Plan B doesn't exist. Our country needs tostay in the eurozone but on a better organised aid programme,"he said. Stathakis was confident a deal will be reached. "Otherwise,mainly Greece but the European Union as well will step into unchartered waters and no-one wants that."
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