Home Business Economy & Politics Greece crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras optimistic after EU and ECB talks

Greece crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras optimistic after EU and ECB talks

Greece’s PM Alexis Tsipras says he believes it will be possible to find a solution to the stand-off with the EU over his country’s debt.

Alexis Tsipras said he was “optimistic” after meeting the heads of the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament in Brussels.

The new prime minister and his finance minister are on a diplomatic offensive to reassure eurozone leaders about their plans.

Alexis Tsipras has pledged to renegotiate the terms of a €240 billion bailout.

His far-left party Syriza was elected last month on a promise to end austerity measures.

“We respect the rules of the European Union,” Alexis Tsipras said after his meetings on February 4.

“I’m very optimistic… Of course we don’t have already an agreement but we are in a good direction to find a viable agreement.”Alexis Tsipras EU talks Brussels

Speaking at the joint news conference, European Parliament President Martin Schulz described their talks as “fruitful” but said there were difficult times ahead.

Meanwhile, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his talks with ECB chief Mario Draghi in Frankfurt had also been encouraging.

“We had a very fruitful discussion and exchange,” Yanis Varoufakis told reporters.

He is keen to convince the ECB that Greece’s debt payments could be linked to the performance of the economy – the more it grows the more interest Greece would pay – through the use of debt swaps.

However, a report in the Financial Times quoted officials involved in the negotiations as saying that the ECB would oppose a crucial part of his plan – the sale of short-term treasury bills to raise €10 billion.

Today’s talks were the latest in a series of European trips to reassure leaders about the plans of a government elected on January 25 on a promise of writing off most of Greece’s spiraling debt.

Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party had also sparked alarm on the markets and among eurozone officials when it said it would refuse a new tranche of bailout funding, prompting questions about how it would finance itself.

Greece’s current program of loans ends on February 28. A final €7.2 billion is still to be negotiated, but the new government has already begun to roll back austerity measures.

Yanis Varoufakis is hoping to obtain quick cash for Greece while a new plan is agreed amongst the various eurozone members.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet on February 11 to discuss Greece’s debt proposals.

Earlier, Alexis Tsipras met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.

Jean-Claude Juncker was expected to press Alexis Tsipras for a “technical” extension of Greece’s current deal. The Greek leader is to travel to Paris to meet President Francois Hollande later.

On February 5, Yanis Varoufakis is expected to meet Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister.

Wolfgang Schaeuble has emerged as the one of the toughest critics of the new Greek government, previously saying: “Elections change nothing. There are rules.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has ruled out Greece’s debt cancellation, saying creditors had already made concessions.

Greece still has a debt of €315 bilion – about 175% of GDP – despite some creditors writing down debts in a renegotiation in 2012.

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