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Greece optimistic about reaching debt deal before EU summit 

Athens, July 9 (IANS) Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis expressed confidence that the country will reach an agreement with its creditors, even without convening Sunday’s summit, Efe news agency reported on Thursday.

“We believe that we will have positive signs at the Eurogroup and that we proceed to an agreement,” Sakellaridis told private broadcaster ANT1 TV, according to the Greek Reporter, adding that if all goes well, the European Union summit on Sunday may not be necessary.

The Greek government still has to finalise its proposals on Thursday, while a draft is expected to be sent to Greek political leaders before being sent on to its European partners.

The goal, Sakellaridis said, was to do the necessary preparatory work for the proposal so it would reach the Eurogroup with a guaranteed positive outcome.

The spokesman stressed that the government was doing everything it could to reach a compromise, while he dismissed “secret plans” for a return to the drachma.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was scheduled meet on Thursday with Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis, newly-appointed Finance Minister Euclides Tsakalotos, Economic Minister Giorgos Stathakis and Foreign Affairs Minster Nikos Kotzias. 

Acoording to another report by Xinhua news agency, Greece’s Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas on Thursday said a debt deal with lenders will be achieved by this weekend to avert a catastrophic default and a Greek exit from the European Union (EU).

“I am confident and I believe that even a bad agreement will lead to better results than the lack of any agreement,” Mardas told Greek media, while the finance ministry once again extended bank holidays and capital controls from June 29 to July 13.

When the measure was introduced to avoid a collapse of the banking system caused by the liquidity shortage, the current government had said that banks would reopen on July 7, should a deal with creditors be sealed.

As Athens continues a new round of negotiations with lenders, the bank holidays were extended to Wednesday and now to next Monday. The critical eurozone and EU summit in Brussels on Sunday will decide whether Greece will get a deal and stay in the eurozone or face an exit.

For a second week, the 60-euro-per-bank-account ($66) withdrawal cap from ATMs has been maintained according to a ministerial decree. 

Pensioners and the unemployed may draw up to 120 euros per week from around 1,000 bank branches nationwide. Holders of foreign debit and credit cards are exempted from the restrictions.

In a statement to the media on Thursday, Greece’s Bank Association chief Louka Katseli said that the country’s banking sector has enough liquidity until Monday. Should a debt deal be struck by then and the Emergency Liquidity Mechanism resumed its support, the banking system would gradually start functioning normally again, she said.

Asked about the risk of a “haircut” on deposits, she stressed that all deposits of up to 100,000 euros per person were safe under European legislation.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Tsakalotos and his team are finishing the list of reforms that will be submitted to lenders by Friday morning in exchange for further aid.

According to government sources, by Thursday afternoon the list will be distributed to the leaders of Greek political parties represented in the parliament, who since Wednesday night have been informed of the developments achieved by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

The same sources said that a third bailout Greece formally requested from the European Stability Mechanism on Wednesday will add up to 70 billion euros over a three-year period.

On Thursday evening, Greeks mobilised by social media over the past month, will hit the streets of Athens again in a rally to send the message that “Greece wants to stay in Europe”.

Another pro-government demonstration has been scheduled for Friday evening, as ruling Syriza party members assured that parliamentarians would approve a “viable deal” and that a rift with Europe was out of the question.

However, recent remarks made by some Cyriza cabinet ministers and deputies indicated that Tsipras might face a “rebellion” within the party’s parliamentary group should the terms of the deal be considered extremely painful. 

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