Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras showed no sign Tuesday of capitulating to Greece’s international creditors, denouncing the “criminal responsibility” of countries demanding spending cuts and accusing them of “strangling” his country.
“The mandate we’ve been given by the Greek people is not a mandate of creative ambiguity,” Tsipras told the Greek parliament. “It is clear mandate to stop austerity.”
The U.S. entered the fray late Tuesday. In attempt to exert pressure, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Tsipras to make “a serious move to reach a pragmatic compromise,” according to a readout of the phone call.
Lew stated that will remain in close contact with all sides to prevent the country from defaulting on its debt and imperiling Europe’s common currency.
“Failure to reach an agreement would create immediate hardship for Greece and broad uncertainties for Europe and the global economy,” read the Treasury statement.
Talks between Greece and the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are at stalemate following the collapse of negotiations this weekend between representatives of Tsipras’ leftist Syriza government and Martin Selmayr, the cabinet chief of Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
Digging in ahead of Thursday’s meeting in Luxembourg of eurozone finance ministers, Tsipras called the latest creditor proposals on economic reforms “absurd, unrealistic and unacceptable.” But he portrayed Greece’s negotiating tactics as bound to succeed.
“I’d say the real negotiations are starting now,” Tsipras said in the parliament address.
With time running out for any Greek reform deal to get parliamentary approval in member states where a vote is required, such as Germany, Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported that the European Council would convene an emergency summit on Friday night. This was played down by Preben Aamann, Council President Donald Tusk’s chief spokesman, who texted: “No. Nothing is planned, nothing decided. All eyes on Eurogroup Thursday.”
However, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Germany’s Bild that the Eurogroup meeting was “not the right place to present proposals which haven’t been discussed and negotiated on a lower level before.”
Also attended by IMF chief Christine Lagarde, Thursday’s meeting is the last practical chance to complete a deal for Greece before June 30, when the country owes €1.6 billion in bundled payments to the IMF and the extension also expires to its second bailout package, of which €7.2 billion remains. Greece has been trying to unlock this final tranche since February.
While Tsipras was speaking in Athens, German Chancellor Angela Merkel alluded to the lack of progress in negotiations and emphasized the important role of the IMF, which pulled out of technical-level talks last week in frustration.
“I’m concentrating all of my energy on helping the three institutions find a solution with Greece,” she told reporters. “That’s what I see as my task. I want to do everything possible to keep Greece in the euro zone.”
However, the floor leader in the Bundestag of her Christian Democrats, Michael Grosse-Brömer, edged closer to acknowledging that a Greek exit from the eurozone could become a reality.
“In the event a solid reform package is not presented, then a ‘Grexit’ would have to be accepted if necessary,” he said.
Courtesy Zeke Turner, Politico