By T. Tsiros
The margins for achieving a staff-level agreement by Friday's Eurogroup meeting in Friday became even tighter over the weekend, as essentially no substantive progress was reported or even "insinuated" over the weekend.
With government coalition nerves fraying ahead of another missed "unofficial deadline", the usual "suspects" for venting the Greek side's anger, i.e. the IMF and German FinMin Wolfgang Schaeuble, were again blamed for placing "obstacles" towards concluding the now year-long delayed review of the third bailout.
"There are delays with pretexts, especially by the IMF ... every time we are close (to an agreement) the IMF uses a tactic to delay negotiations, because it considers that as more time passes, and as more uncertainty plagues the economy, the more the other side (Greece) becomes cornered," the spokesman said, while adding, however, that an agreement is only days away.
With Friday's deadline now appearing fleeting, the shift is on concluding a staff-level agreement on another date in April, despite the fact that Easter holidays are scheduled. Nevertheless, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem mentioned last week that an extraordinary Eurogroup meeting could be convened this month if significant progress was achieved.
At last word, distance negotiations stumbled on whether new austerity measures demanded by creditors will be implemented in 2019, or be spread over to 2020 as well. According to reports, the IMF and the German side want all measures implemented in 2019, whereas the embattled Greek government want the measures spread out, especially after 2019, which is the year that general elections are regularly scheduled to be held.