New Greek bailout talks begin in Athens

Brussels/Athens, July 27

Talks between Greece and its international creditors on a third bailout began in Athens today but the lenders want to see more reforms turned into law before they disburse the first loans to keep the near-bankrupt country afloat.

The government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed two packages of measures through parliament this month as conditions for starting negotiations on a three-year loan programme worth up to 86 billion euros ($95 billion) to keep Greece in the eurozone.

A spokeswoman for European Commission said teams from the creditor institutions were now in Athens. “Work has started, meaning that the institutions are talking to the Greek authorities,” she said.

Talks had been due to start last Friday, but were delayed because of organisational and security issues.

“Negotiations on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) should now progress as swiftly as possible,” Commission Spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told a news briefing. Both sides say they want a deal concluded before August 20.

Greece came close to the brink during a long stand off between the government and its creditors, with Athens missing a debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and forced to close the country’s banks for three weeks.

The institutions involved in the talks are European Commission, European Central Bank, IMF, and European Stability Mechanism.