Eurogroup, Greece say ‘crunch’ negotiations failed but still time for clutch deal
“Regrettable to say that too little progress has been made in the talks between EU institutions and Greece. No agreement as yet is in sight,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, said at a news conference following the talks.
He added, however, that “as of today it is still possible to find an agreement and extend the current program before the end of the month.”
“But the ball is clearly in the Greek court to seize that last opportunity,” he added, “…you know that the time is running out and the program expires by the end of the month… And therefore very little time remains.”
In the meantime, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said that Greece “will be in default” with the IMF as of July 1 if it fails to make a scheduled payment on June 30.
“There is no grace period or two-month delay, as I have seen here and there,” she said, “I have a term of June 30 – if it’s not paid by July 1, it’s not paid.”
Lagarde, however, added that she hoped that Athens would make its payment on time.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said there is still enough time to find “a mutually beneficial solution.”
— Valdis Dombrovskis (@VDombrovskis) June 18, 2015
According to Varoufakis, all political leaders have a responsibility to find a solution to the Greek problem, but Dijsselbloem “unfortunately” is only focused on Athens’ responsibilities.
“When Europe’s future is at a critical juncture, we have a duty to work towards a resolution. In this context I don’t want to contemplate catastrophes,” he said, answering a question on the worst-case scenario for Greece’s economy.
George Katrougalos, the country’s minister of administrative reforms, told RT Greece is still ready to negotiate.
“Now it’s time for our partners to make some steps towards the compromise. We want an agreement, but a fair agreement. A fair agreement means we don’t want further austerity and we don’t want all the burden to lay again to the weakest, to the poorest.”
Greece is struggling to repay its multibillion euro debt to the troika of international lenders (the IMF, the ECB and the European Commission), and is trying to find a way to get a further €7.2 billion bailout unlocked.
Athens has already delayed a €300 million payment to the IMF, promising to bundle its four June payments, totaling €1.6 billion, together and pay them by the end of the month.
The country’s public debt currently stands at €316 billion. Unemployment rose from 12 percent to 27 percent in three years and GDP has fallen by 26 percent since 2008 as a result of austerity measures. The number of people living below the poverty line is increasing daily.
Greece’s stock market fell almost 2 percent in early trading on Thursday, hitting a new three-year low. The Athens market has shed 18 percent of its value since last Thursday.
In the meantime, the German Die Zeit newspaper cited sources familiar with negotiators as saying that international creditors are planning to extend its existing program for bank recapitalization till the end of 2015, but without the IMF.
The 10 billion euros that remain slotted for that program ($11.4 billion) will be used to settle Greece’s liabilities with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF.