Successive meetings and milestones of the negotiations that will lead Greece (and the Greek economy) to a post-Programme future are crowded in these few days. The Washington Group discussions saw German Finance Minister Olav Scholz (“the new kid in the block”) declare that “it will take many weeks” for the decisions over Greek debt relief to materialize; while his French counterpart Bruno Lemaire thought it imperative that “the momentum be preserved” and an “ambitious approach to the Greek debt issue be maintained” for Greece to be finally welcomed to the capital markets. Meanwhile, the IMF in its Economic Outlook made some negative forecasts about the growth rate of the Greek economy (at 2% from 2018, down from 2.6% at an earlier forecast), but compensated by accepting that primary surpluses would hit 3.7% of GDP for 2017 (up from a crawling 1.7% earlier predicted), then would plummet at 2.9% for 2018, but bounce back to 3.5% or thereabouts for the next 3 years – before receding to a paltry 1.2% for 2023. (Who was it that said “There are lies, bloody lies and statistics”?).
Probably the best prediction for the days and weeks of negotiations to come was the one of Eurogroup’s Chair Mario Senteno: “Positions are closer than any time in the past”, but “we have to walk the last mile”.
It is an established fact that, in negotiations terrain the last mile is the toughest to go.