Crisis talks between Greek and eurozone finance ministers ended in deadlock in Brussels after seven hours, with no agreement over the country’s unpopular bailout.
Greece’s new radical government is still refusing to extend the current 240 billion euro package, instead it is demanding a so-called “haircut” reducing its debt.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said: “There is no request by us for an extension to the existing programme . Many sides said that there is a programme and we are obliged to extend it. But we explained we were elected to put a dent in that logic.”
Both sides have agreed to resume talks on Monday but time is running out – the bailout expires in two weeks and Greece’s EU partners say Greece must accept some conditional funding.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem expressed disappointment with how things had gone. There hadn’t even been agreement over a joint statement at the end of the talks: “It was my ambition to agree on the steps to take in the next couple of days so we could spend them well and make more progress between now and Monday. Unfortunately we’ve not been able to do that so we continue our talks on Monday and move on from there.”
Reporting for euronews from Brussels Efi Koutsokosta said: “The focus is now on Thursday’s EU summit. But this Eurogroup meeting has shown that the differences between the two sides are as wide as ever and a lot of concessions will need to be made in order to bridge the gap.”
Thursday will be the first European summit for Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. EU officials will be briefed on the Eurogroup talks but it is unlikely the issue will get much ‘air time’ as the summit is expected to be taken up with the Ukraine-Russia conflict, fighting terrorism and longer-term reform of the eurozone’s governance.