Greece has paid 750 millions euros that it owes to the IMF, officials said on Monday, as eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels to discuss the cash-strapped country’s future.
Point of view
"I shall be frank with you: the liquidity issue is a terrible, urgent issue"
The announcement came ahead of Tuesday’s final deadline to stump up the cash.
Athens wants to unlock a final 7.2 billion euro slice of a total of 240 billion euros in bailout aid.
Officials say there is still more work to do and that gaps remain between the two sides.
Syriza, the left-wing party that leads the Greek coalition, was elected earlier this year on a promise to end austerity.
“We have a joint interest with the Greek authorities to get that agreement as quickly as possible, there are some time constraints, liquidity constraints, but hopefully we will reach that agreement before time runs out, before money runs out, and that is our joint goal,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup President.
The Greek government has until the end of next month to agree upon fresh reforms with its international creditors, or it looks set to run out of cash.
“I shall be frank with you: the liquidity issue is a terrible, urgent issue. It seems to me that from the perspective of the time frame that we are facing, we are talking about the next couple of weeks,” said Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister.
Syriza says it will not break its election promises and the idea of a referendum on any final deal has been floated in recent weeks.
In a surprise U-turn on Monday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said he was open to such a move.
“If the Greek government thinks it should have a referendum, then it should have a referendum,” he told reporters before the talks began in Brussels.