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EU offers 'unspent' aid to Greece in return for reform


brussels bureau

EU offers 'unspent' aid to Greece in return for reform

EU officials said on Friday that Greece must unveil a list of reforms before getting any more bailout cash.

The country’s international creditors decided in February to extend its 240-billion-euro bailout by four months if Athens pursued further reforms.

The Greek government had been asking for a final seven-billion-euro tranche of the money to be paid out now to stay afloat.

Its debt woes had forced its way on to the top of the two-day EU summit agenda after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras demanded a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other officials.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, called talks on Greece a “reality check” for all sides.

“This was not a meeting to take decisions but to have a reality check and avoid misunderstandings at the highest political level,” he said.

Brussels also offered Greece two billion euros in unused development funds to help boost jobs and growth.

“This will not be used to fill Greece’s coffers, but to support efforts to create growth and social cohesion in Greece,” said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel brushed off any chance of easing up on economic reforms, saying that Greece must stick to “every paragraph” of an agreement struck on February 20th with its creditors.

“The Greek government has the possibility of replacing individual reforms outstanding from December 10th with other reforms, if these have the same effect. The institutions and then the Eurogroup must decide whether they do have the same effect,” she said.

Greek Prime Minister Tsipras, however, denied that Greece is running out of cash, directly contradicting the view that Athens will run of funds by mid-April.

“There is absolutely no problem of short term liquidity in the Greek economy. Our obligations to the people that are concerned and the institutions are totally guaranteed. And it’s clear that the deposits in the Greek banks are safe,” he told reporters.

On Friday, a key debt deadline passed when Greece had to pay 300 million euros to the IMF and redeem 1.6 billion euros in government bonds.

Tsipras, whose left-wing government was elected on a promise to end austerity, will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday.

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