Troika moves to Quartet – but Velculescu delays picking the fiddle

Fiscal indices, pensions, open labor issues, closed professions… all thorny issues on the Quartet’s discordant program

The Troika has become a Quartet with representatives from the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), now joined by the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Three of the Quartet chiefs are in Athens on Wednesday after intensive negotiations began on Tuesday at a technical level as representatives from the four institutions met with government officials at the General Accounting Offices.

Expected in Athens to negotiate were Declan Costello from the EC, Rasmus Ruffer from the ECB, Nicola Giammarioli from the ESM and the IMF’s Delia Velculescu (who Cypriots call Draculescu due to her hard-bargaining and heartless drive towards austerity). Already, Velculescu, ever the diva, has begun playing with the stakes by delaying her arrival to Athens for Thursday.

The goal is to reach an agreement at all possible costs with technical teams expected to complete their surveys of Greek assets by Friday and have follow-up meetings over the weekend only in exceptional cases.

The talks on a new rescue loan are geared towards thrashing a deal for an 85-billion-euro lifeline to extend over a three year period so that Greece can make its debt payment to the ECB on August 20 – something that it is not in a position to afford without new loans.

Negotiations with creditors this week are expected to cove fiscal indices, pensions, open labor issues and the OECD tool kit. Once an agreement is reached, the way will be paved for Greece to get its next dose of funding – the third bailout in more than five years with Greece having received about 240 billion euros from the EU and IMF so far.

Amid the gloom, EC spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said that the creditors representatives are working hard to “conclude talks as soon as possible.”