Greek Minister Hints at Further Debt Relief
Greece's economy minister said he expected European officials to "show solidarity" over the country's debt burden, as Greece attempts to convince international lenders that it is on track to receive its next tranche of aid.
"If we are reliable and surprise on the upside, I am sure our partners will show solidarity with Greece," said Kostis Hatzidakis, the Greek Minister of Development, Competitiveness, Infrastructure, Transport and Networks, in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt about the possibility of further debt relief.
The interview, published on Tuesday, has led to speculation that Greece could receive another debt haircut from its European creditors - despite German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble ruling out imposing further losses on creditors last week.
Ben May, a European economist at Capital Economics, said a debt restructuring of this sort was unlikely, especially given the upcoming German elections in September.
"It would be very unpopular politically so it's unlikely the German government would consider it in the weeks before election. We have also, in the past, seen that Europe's policy makers have been quite reluctant to do this anyway," said May.
"In the end, it's going to be a political decision as much as anything else, whether European policy makers would be willing to sanction more debt relief for Greece."
Hatzidakis's interview came as pressures builds on Athens to convince its "troika" of international creditors - the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank - that it can meet the tough conditions attached to its financial bailout.
The European Commission said the decision on whether to pay the country's 8.1 billion euros ($10.5 billion) aid tranche in one or three separate parts would be taken next Monday. The Commission denied reports by Reuters that Greece has been set a three-day ultimatum.
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In the interview, Hatzidakis insisted the country had done enough to receive the cash injection. "We are implementing the conditions the Troika has set, and are doing everything we can to achieve a structural surplus by the end of the year, as promised," he told Die Welt.
However, Greece has suffered setbacks to its private sector reform and privatization programs, including the collapse of the sale of state-owned gas company DEPA.
Capital Economic's May said these delays could cause problems for Greece, given the IMF's insistence that the country is fully financed for next year before loans can be provided.
"Greece's financing needs haven't changed, but this shortfall in privatization receipts means the amount of money coming in will be lower – and the IMF says this hole needs to be plugged," he said.
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One solution could be further austerity measures in Greece – which is currently battling its sixth consecutive year of recession – or additional monetary support from its European creditors.
Either way, May described this as a "potential stumbling block" to Greece receiving its next aid tranche. The country resumed its talks with international lenders this week, after a fortnight's break during which redundancies were made at state broadcaster ERT.
-- By CNBC's Katrina Bishop. Follow her on Twitter @KatrinaBishop