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Pessimism clouds fresh Greek debt talks

brussels bureau

Pessimism clouds fresh Greek debt talks


Hopes faded of a quick resolution to the Greek debt negotiations on Monday as eurozone finance ministers in Brussels sought a deal on the future of Athens’s international bailout programme.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras came to power on a pledge to end the bailouts and reverse austerity measures.

That has put him on a collision course with Germany and most other eurozone countries, which say that Athens should stick to the commitments agreed by the previous government.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble stuck to Berlin’s hardline stance on easing any austerity program for Greece.

“What I have heard so far has not strengthened my optimism. It seems like we have no results so far,” he said. “I’m quite sceptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently.”

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrived at Monday’s talks without speaking to reporters.

But he did publish an opinion piece in The New York Times, denying that his government was following “some radical-left agenda.”

He wrote that Greece should no longer be treated as a “debt colony” subjected to “the greatest austerity for the most depressed economy”.

If no deal can be found, Greece’s public finances could face a severe credit crunch and some argue it may even be forced out of the euro altogether.

Athens wants to restructure its debts and revise some of the economic targets it has been set. It also wants stop-gap financing to cover the six-month period after the current 240-billion euro bailout programme ends on February 28.

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brussels bureau