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Greece's lenders patch up differences

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 01:53

Euro zone lenders and the International Monetary Fund have agreed to put aside differences and present a united front at a meeting with Greece in the latest bailout impasse, a step towards agreeing what Athens must do next. But will the Greek government accept the terms? Laura Frykberg reports.

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All appears calm outside the Greek parliament But inside it, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. February 20 is Greece's deadline for an all too familiar exchange. More austerity in return for another bailout. Just after the country emerged from a multi-year recession. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "If we have managed to largely avoid a ring of fire, if we have managed to avoid a mousetrap, if we have managed to avoid being with our backs against the wall in relation to the crucial negotiations, this is because we ended 2016 with growth while everyone was forecasting a deficit, including the IMF." There's disagreement among lenders over how to deal with Greece's debt. The IMF has called for it to be reduced, but euro zone finance ministers aren't so sure. On Friday both sides put aside their differences. Agreeing they'll offer the bailout - if Greece makes 1.8 billion euros worth of new reforms by next year. And a similar amount the year after - by broadening its tax base and cutting pensions. Something some say is unsustainable - as warned by the IMF. SOUNDBITE (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "It's been right for most of the crisis, it's the one voice of sanity really compared to the euro zone's really unrealistic approaches to Greece. Greece needs less austerity, it needs changes to its budget surplus rules, it needs the space to grow and it's not been given that. The IMF has been broadly right all along and I think someone should finally listen to them." The different approaches have driven Greek bonds above 10 percent. They dropped again when the agreement between lenders was announced. It was enough to bring investors back into the market. Although there's no indication Athens will accept the deal. With many Greeks still opposed to austerity.

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Greece's lenders patch up differences

Friday, February 10, 2017 - 01:53