Greece wants eurozone summit if debt talks fail

Published 06.04.2017 00:56

Greece has asked for a eurozone summit to be held if creditor talks on Friday fail to break months of deadlock on the country's debt and reform goals, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday.

"If the Eurogroup is not in a position to (produce a result) on Friday, I have asked EU President Donald Tusk to call a summit of eurozone countries," the Greek prime minister said after meeting with Tusk.

However, both Tsipras and Tusk insisted such a step would not be necessary. The EU president said he had "no doubt" there would be a breakthrough on Friday.

Negotiations between Athens and its eurozone and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors have dragged on for months amid disagreements on debt relief and budget targets for the country.

Tsipras on Wednesday accused hardline creditors of making "absurd demands" and "shifting the goalposts."

"(New) demands and requirements arise constantly... the games must stop," the Greek prime minister said.

Meanwhile, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos flew to Brussels on Tuesday to relaunch the talks.

Upon leaving the meetings that stretched into late Tuesday, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem tweeted "good progress" and said the talks would continue on Wednesday.

Tusk noted Wednesday that a deal "will be possible thanks to the readiness of Greek people to sacrifice something."

Athens says its economy is performing better than expected, and it should therefore not be asked to make sacrifices beyond those agreed in its current multi-billion-euro bailout, which ends in 2018.

According to reports, the creditors are refusing to conclude the current audit without a pledge for fresh cuts in 2019.

Among the measures reportedly demanded by Greece's creditors are additional pension cuts, a reduced tax-exemption ceiling, and further deregulation of the energy and labor markets.

The impasse has held up the latest instalment of Greece's 86-billion-euro ($92-billion) bailout, agreed in 2015, which it needs for debt repayments in July.

With the European Union already reeling from Brexit, Tsipras argued that Greece's current rescue program, its third since 2010, would collapse if his government were to fall.

His leftist-led coalition has just 153 members in the 300-seat parliament, which would make it difficult for Tsipras to push through another package of unpopular austerity measures.

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