To a collective sigh of relief, Britain’s political parties enter their last full of week of campaigning ahead of May 7 elections. There have been endless talking points but as yet no turning point.
We’ve been saying it for a week or more and it’s now confirmed – the lack of an economic reform programme forthcoming from Athens means today’s meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Riga can achieve no breakthrough despite glimmers of the two sides moving closer.
Euro zone finance deputies are due to hold talks today on how to rescue Greece but appear to have little concrete to work on with Athens yet to produce a new economic reform programme after the first one was declared full of holes.
EU foreign ministers will discuss action on migration across the Mediterranean at a meeting in Luxembourg today. As many as 700 people are feared dead after a fishing boat packed with migrants capsized off the Libyan coast over the weekend.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Reuters on Thursday he was “firmly optimistic” of reaching an agreement with Greece’s creditors. But he acknowledged that the two sides disagreed on four major issues: labour rules, pension reform, a hike in value-added taxes and privatisations.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Moscow.
There has been talk from some in his Syriza party that Russia could be a substitute for EU support. Western sanctions over Ukraine leave it in no position to give Greece funding though the agriculture minister said Moscow could consider removing Greece, Hungary and Cyprus from its ban on most Western food imports, imposed in response to sanctions imposed by the EU and United States.
The Greek government has sent a reform package to its EU and International Monetary Fund creditors, hoping it will unlock desperately needed funds to stave off bankruptcy.
Russia’s central bank meets having unexpectedly cut its key policy rate in January by 200 basis points to 15 percent, raising a question mark over its independence from political pressure, given inflation rose to a 13-year high of 16.7 percent in February.