There was food for thought for the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as the eurozone said in no uncertain terms that Athens would get no more aid until it agreed a complete economic reform plan.
As Greece lurches closer to bankruptcy, European finance ministers piled on the pressure at the latest bailout talks in the Latvian capital Riga on Friday.
The head of the Eurogroup warned that the country has “big, big problems” to solve before its creditors release more funds.
“It was a very critical discussion. We came to an agreement two months ago and today of course we had hoped to have positive results and an agreement on which we could then take a decision and we are still far from that. And I would like to reiterate again that a comprehensive deal is necessary before any disbursements can take place,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters.
Talks with the country’s creditors have so far proved unproductive and time is running out: Greece risks bankruptcy if it defaults on its loans at the end of June. Wage and pension cuts are still the main sticking points.
Without more help Greece may soon no longer be able to pay its bills.
Reportedly more than one minister at the talks expressed frustration with the Greek economic team in Riga and in particular Varoufakis for an approach one participant described as “amateur”.
But the Greek finance minister remains optimistic: “We look at the last few weeks and what we see is convergence. We haven’t had full convergence yet, because otherwise we would have had white smoke coming out of the chimney. But we are confident that we can have that,” he said.
European Central Bank officials have said that would not necessarily mean Greek banks were bust, and the uncertainty could continue.
However markets are concerned that Greece could ultimately be forced to drop the euro.
Euronews correspondent Efi Koutsokosta reported from Riga:
“Yanis Varoufakis stood alone against the other Eurozone ministers in Riga, in what was a difficult meeting for him. EU sources say they have only started to see progress in the last few days. The next crucial meeting will be in Brussels on May 11. In the meantime, Greece is struggling from day to day as its cash reserves start running out.”
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