Tsipras contacts Greek leaders, Lagarde after WikiLeaks publication

2 April 2016
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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was due to write to International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde over the weekend after an alleged conversation between two of the organization’s senior officials discussing the Greek bailout was leaked.

WikiLeaks published on Saturday the alleged transcript of an exchange Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF’s European department, and Delia Velculescu, the IMF mission chief in Greece, in which the two officials discussed the impasse in the bailout review and their concerns about how it could be concluded.

According to the WikiLeaks transcript, the two IMF officials discuss the need for an “event” that would force the Europeans to accept the IMF’s position, which includes a lower primary surplus target and debt relief, so the bailout review can be concluded.

“What is going to bring it all to a decision point? In the past there has been only one time when the decision has been made and then that was when they were about to run out of money seriously and to default. Right?” Thomsen is claimed to have told Velculescu.

“I agree that we need an event, but I don’t know what that will be,” Velculescu allegedly added a little later in the conversation.

Greek government officials interpreted this as the IMF encouraging a Greek “credit event” or default. Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili said Tsipras would ask Lagarde for an explanation as to whether the content of the conversation represented the IMF’s official position.

An IMF spokesman in Washington refused to confirm or deny the authenticity of the transcript, saying it was the Fund’s practice not to comment on alleged leaks.

Tsipras also contacted opposition leaders regarding the WikiLeaks publication, as well as President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. The latter reiterated his belief that the IMF should no longer be part of the Greek bailout program and that the European Stability Mechanism should take its place.

PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata criticized the IMF and the government’s handling of the bailout negotiations, while To Potami called on the coalition to take advantage of the contrasting positions of the country’s lenders.

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