Hollande Says Tsipras Talks to Pave Way for Greece DealHelene Fouquet and Jonathan Stearns
French President Francois Hollande opened the prospect of striking a political deal with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that unlocks bailout aid for Greece within days.
Speaking before a summit of European Union leaders in Riga, Latvia, Hollande said that a meeting he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold with Tsipras later on Thursday will help pave the way for an accord to be hammered out by finance ministers at the end of May or early June.
“With Tsipras we want to find solutions to restore confidence and release the funds that have been planned,” Hollande told reporters. “So it will be a friendly talk, but a talk in which we have to be able to draft solutions.”
Hollande’s comments build on growing signs of determination to end the stalemate that has buffeted Greek markets since Tsipras’s election in January at the head of a coalition committed to ending austerity. The French and German leaders called two days ago for the pace of talks to pick up, and Merkel is already considering making a keynote speech to sell any deal to the German public and members of her Christian Democratic-led bloc.
The Greek government believes momentum has been building toward an end-May agreement with creditors that would alleviate the country’s cash crunch, according to an official from Greece attending the EU leaders’ meeting in Riga.
Tsipras plans to highlight progress that has been made in the staff-level negotiations between Greece and its creditors when he meets with Merkel and Hollande after the summit dinner, the official told reporters, asking not to be named because the discussions are private.
Merkel didn’t comment on Greece when she arrived for the meeting.
Hollande said that the discussion with Tsipras will “help prepare for the expected deadline, especially the eurogroup” meeting of euro-area finance ministers at the end of May or in early June. France and Germany are not trying to force the matter for the rest of Europe, he said.
“We are working to facilitate the process and at the same time to pass on certain messages useful to Greece and useful to Europe,” Hollande said.