Feb. 24 - Greece resumes bailout talks with its international lenders, hoping to end six months of wrangling over the release of new rescue loans it needs to avoid default. As Sonia Legg reports, the disbursement of funds to repay 9.3 billion euros of bonds is at stake.
They're not the most welcome visitors but the troika's return to Athens does offer hope of sorts. It means six months of wrangling over the latest rescue loan may be at an end. Greece needs to repay bonds worth 9.3 billion euros before May. Disagreements with the EU, ECB and IMF over how to do that have caused the delay. But William de Vijlder from BNP Paribas says things have changed in Greece in that time, among them growing exports. (SOUNDBITE) (English): William de Vijlder, CIO, BNP Paribas, saying: "There is an expectation that GDP will be positive this year, they have moved back to a primary surplus, deposit rates have increased, interest rates that banks need to pay have some down significantly - they were 5% last year, they are 3% at this stage so that is also a good sign." Many Greeks don't see the positives. Huge structural challenges remain, unemployment is high and austerity fatigue is acute. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) LAID OFF GOVERNMENT WORKER SAYING: "The government has placed us in the 'labour reserve' scheme which expires in two months. We want them to look at out situation with sensitivity and support the weaker social classes." The other hope is a new bailout deal. The government wants to negotiate one after elections in May. (SOUNDBITE) (English): William de Vijlder, CIO, BNP Paribas, saying: "If it is successful in negotiating it will pave the way for coming back to the capital markets and it would also give people a more comfortable feeling about the nature of the progress that we are seeing now." This hurdle needs clearing first though. The troika may not be asking for any new austerity measures but Greece must spell out what reforms it will implement before it gets the cash.