Exclusive Exclusive: Greek Finance Minister Accepts IMF Role in Bailout Program

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said Athens has accepted that the International Monetary Fund will remain a part of its bailout program for the foreseeable future. “The involvement of the IMF is agreed. This is our commitment,” Mr. Tsakalotos said in an exclusive interview with Handelsblatt. Mr. Tsakalotos, speaking on the sidelines of meetings in Berlin, said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb and Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem have all made clear that the IMF’s role in Europe’s bailout of Greece is non-negotiable. Mr. Tsakalotos said he recognized that “they don’t mean just in terms of technical assistance but active involvement in the financial package.” Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, in December suggested he opposed the IMF’s participation in the package, calling it unnecessary. Mr. Tsakalotos said Mr. Tsipras was expressing “frustration” with the Washington-based lender’s role. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is set to meet with Mr. Tsipras on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos next week. Mr. Tsakalotos also said he expected Greece to complete a first review of its bailout program in the next few weeks, despite some concerns in the European Union that the country is pulling back from promises it made last summer. “We say it could be done in days. Jeroen Dijsselbloem said earlier this week that it will take months. But, between months and days there are weeks. I think this is a good guess. I have a sense of goodwill from everybody. So I think we could hammer out a deal maybe in four weeks,” Mr. Tsakalotos.   Read the full interview in Handelsblatt Global Edition. Photo Source: Reuters