Arab Today, arab today greece to start crunch talks with \troika\ creditors
Last Updated : GMT 16:52:01
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Greece to start crunch talks with \'troika\' creditors

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Arab Today, arab today Greece to start crunch talks with \'troika\' creditors

Athens - AFP

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras faces crucial talks Monday with the country\'s international creditors, as the latest controversial round of cuts goes before parliament. Stournaras was to meet officials from the so-called troika of international creditors, who are to decide whether the cuts are sufficient to unlock 31.5 billion euros ($40.5 billion) in frozen loans under the country\'s bailout. Senior representatives from the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank -- the troika -- returned to Athens over the weekend to resume talks with the government. The latest package of cuts was to be submitted alongside the draft 2013 budget to parliament on Monday. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras made it clear how high the stakes are in comments to the centre-left weekly newspaper To Vima on Sunday. The nation\'s financial system is desperate for the cash injection which will only be released once the austerity deal is finalised, he said. \"The Greek economy awaits this money like parched earth awaits the rain,\" he told To Vima. The troika left Greece last week to give Samaras\'s coalition government time to finalise the austerity package worth 13.5 billion euros. The loans, part of Greece\'s bailout worth 130 billion euros overall, have been suspended since May when reforms ground to a halt as the country needed two elections before a government could be formed. Samaras is trying to overcome resistance from his socialist and moderate leftist allies in government, who have balked at imposing sweeping new cuts on a nation already slogging through a third year of austerity. They want the conservative prime minister to extract as many concessions as possible from the troika, in particular a two-year extension to 2016 to ease the annual burden of the fiscal overhaul. Eurozone finance ministers are to meet on October 8, and an EU summit on October 18 and 19 is expected to decide on the Greek request for the two-year extension, which EU and IMF officials say may require extra funding. According to a Greek finance ministry source, the package includes seven billion euros in cuts affecting pensions, benefits and the salaries of better-paid civil servants such as judges, professors and police officers. Another 3.5 billion euros is to be saved from organisational reforms and early retirement for 15,000 civil servants and three billion euros is to be raised in additional taxes. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, teachers and even state security staff have staged strikes and walkouts this month against the new measures. After two years of austerity, nearly one in four Greeks is unemployed according to official figures, which unions say only give a partial picture. On Wednesday, police clashed with masked youths in Athens during a general strike and demonstrations that drew some 34,000 people to the city centre. Another 18,000 people protested in the northern city of Thessaloniki according to police. Meanwhile Slovakia\'s Prime Minister Robert Fico made it clear Sunday he was losing patience with Athens. \"If Greece isn\'t able meet its obligations, there should be a controlled exit,\" Fico told Markiza TV. \"Right now I think that Greece is not meeting its obligations, asking for more exceptions and more time,\" he added. After joining the eurozone in 2009, Slovakia needed to impose harsh austerity measures to keep its own public finances on track during the economic crisis.

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