Alexis Tsipras
Alexis Tsipras

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been invited to Russia in early April, just weeks after he is scheduled to hold talks with German leaders in an effort to salvage faltering relations with Europe’s largest economy.Alexis Tsipras

Tsipras will visit Moscow on April 8, following an official invitation by Russian President Valdimir Putin, the prime minister’s office announced.

The Greek prime minister was originally scheduled to visit the Russian capital on the occasion of the 70-year anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe on May 9, but his visit was brought forward upon a Greek government request.

Local media reported that Greece could seek financial aid from Russia if it failed to secure a firm bailout deal with its creditors.

Tsipras on Monday accepted an invitation by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Berlin on March 23, following deteriorating relations between the two countries over the terms of Greece’s international bailout.

Germany, a main contributor to EU rescue loans, has remained defiant that Athens should stick to strict austerity if it wants to receive more rescue loans.

But Tsipras, whose leftist SYRIZA party swept to power on a platform of ending in January, is determined to reduce budget surplus targets which require more spending cuts and tax hikes.

Eurozone finance ministers agreed at the end of February to prolong the European portion of the Greek rescue package until the end of June. They want the Tsipras government to agree to reforms before it can access the remaining aid.

Tsipras will be present at a round table discussion with Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi ahead of an EU summit this week in Brussels, Skai private radion reported.

Greece and its creditors launched a new round of negotiations last week on the type of reforms the country will have to implement in return for further bailout aid.

Creditors were in Athens to collect data on Greece’s public finances in order for discussions to progress, just as the finance ministry revised down the primary surplus to 0.3 per cent from 1.5 of gross domestic product estimated by the previous conservative government.

Athens is hoping its creditors – the ECB, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund – will agree to an early disbursement of 7.2 billion euros (7.6 billion dollars) in remaining bailout loans or increase the 15-billion euro limit on treasury bills that the state can issue.

The country has received two bailouts totaling 240 billion euros since 2010 to avoid bankruptcy.

Athens has hinted that it may face difficulties making major debt-related payments this summer. It will need approximately 7.5 billion euros in July and August for maturing bonds held by the ECB and other interest payments.

It also faces large payments this month and next. They amount to about 2 billion euros in March – including 1.6 billion euros on an IMF loan – and some 800 million euros in April.



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