The Greek government has demanded answers from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), following explosive revelations by WikiLeaks over bailout conversations. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras's administration has said the government has sought explanations from the lender on whether it threatened to force Athens to push through economic reforms.
A spokesperson for the Greek premier, who chaired an emergency meeting with top cabinet officials, said: "The Greek government is demanding explanations from the IMF over whether seeking to create default conditions in Greece, shortly ahead of the referendum in Britain, is the fund's official position."
The whistle-blowing website earlier released transcripts of internal IMF discussions, which expressed an outright exasperation of the lenders over Athens's slow pace of reforms. The leaked conversation, which claimed to have taken place on 19 March, was between Iva Petrova and Delia Velculescu – IMF representatives involved in negotiations with Greece – and Poul Thomsen, director of the Fund's European Department.
In what appears to further drag Greece into another lengthy political-economic drama, the Washington-based Fund's European department chief is alleged to have said that the ongoing review should be delayed so that a fresh fear of "fiscal accident" in the wake of Brexit referendum would accelerate both sides to take swift measures.
Thomsen was heard saying (according to WikiLeaks): "I am not going accept a package of small measures. I am not... 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 [the Greeks] were about to run out of money seriously and to default. [...] And possibly this is what is going to happen again. In that case, it drags on until July, and clearly the Europeans are not going to have any discussions for a month before the Brexit..."
Subsequent to the purported disclosure, the Fund did not challenge the contents of the transcript directly but insisted that Greece needs to be put "on a path of sustained growth". An official statement said: "We have stated clearly what we think is needed for a durable solution to the economic challenges facing Greece - one that puts Greece on a path of sustainable growth supported by a credible set of reforms matched by debt relief from its European partners."
The leaks have come at a time when talks over bailout agreements between EU and IMF leaders are scheduled to start shortly.