الأربعاء , يونيو 17 2020

Greece PM makes plea at EU summit

Clockwise from left: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras, European Council President Donald Tusk, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union Uwe Corsepius, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Eurogroup President and Dutch FM Jeroen Dijsselbloem meet in Brussels. Photo: 19 March 2015Mr Tsipras (2nd left) is now holding crucial “mini-summit” talks with key EU players

The Greek prime minister has called for “bold initiatives” to reinvigorate his country’s economy as EU leaders gathered for a summit in Brussels.

Alexis Tsipras met the leaders of Germany, France and the EU institutions.

EU leaders also agreed to link lifting sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis to the full implementation of a ceasefire deal.

The move effectively extends the sanctions until the end of 2015.

‘Move towards growth’

The dispute between Greece and its international creditors is not on the formal agenda of the summit. However, correspondents say the meeting is likely to be dominated by the issue.

“The European Union needs bold political initiatives that respect both democracy and the treaties, so [as] to leave behind the crisis and to move towards growth,” Mr Tsipras, Greece’s new leftist leader, said as he arrived on Thursday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, 19 March 2015German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a breakthrough on Greece was unlikely ahead of the summit

He is trying to persuade EU leaders that proposed reforms are enough to unlock vital funds, needed to avoid possible bankruptcy and a eurozone exit.

International creditors say they are are ready to extend help on Greece’s €240bn (£176bn; $272bn) bailout until the end of June.

But Mr Tsipras’s plans have met resistance from EU leaders, with Germany among the most critical.

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Analysis: Laurence Peter, BBC News, Brussels

The late-night meeting on the sidelines of the EU summit is an opportunity for Greek PM Alexis Tsipras to highlight the humanitarian crisis that Greece faces.

He wants to persuade the European Central Bank to let Greek banks continue buying short-term government debt – T-bills. They are a lifeline while Greece negotiates to get a crucial €7.2bn (£5.2bn; $7.7bn) of EU bailout money released.

Time is running out – the Syriza government could be short of cash as soon as April, a Greek source told the BBC.

Mr Tsipras also wants Greece’s EU creditors to take a fresh look at Syriza’s reform plans, as outlined in February.

Syriza rejected the tough austerity programme demanded by the “troika” team – the EU-IMF auditors who have been controlling the bailout instalments.

A four-month loan extension has been agreed in principle – but there remains much haggling over the details.

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European Council President Donald Tusk is to hold a meeting on the Greek issue late on Thursday evening with the leaders of Greece, Germany, France, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), as well as the chairman of eurozone finance ministers.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters when she arrived at the summit that a breakthrough was unlikely.

European leaders held a minute's silence in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack in Tunisia at the start of the summit in Belgium, 19 March 2015The EU leaders started the summit with a minute’s silence in tribute to the victims of the museum attack in Tunis

“Don’t expect a solution,” she said. “Decisions are made in the Eurogroup and that’s how it will remain.”

Meanwhile UK Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters Britain and Greece “were virtually in the same boat” when he came to power in 2010.

However, he said that his government’s budget – announced on Wednesday – showed the UK economy was now growing.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel condemned the decision to discuss Greece’s debts without input from Belgium and other smaller members of the bloc.

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