Greece debt talks: Officials fail to reach agreement in Brussels
Greece has failed to reach an agreement with eurozone officials over the country’s debt crisis, though both sides said there was still hope for a deal.
Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem said seven hours of talks in Brussels had been “constructive”.
They ended without a joint statement to outline procedural steps ahead of further talks on February 16.
Greece says its bailout deal with the EU is punitive and must end. The EU has warned Greece to abide by the deal.
Greek left-wing government says the conditions of the €240 billion ($272 billion) bailout have impoverished Greece.
It was elected on a promise to end the bailout and ease the austerity measures that have accompanied it.
The government has proposed to overhaul 30% of its bailout obligations, replacing them with a 10-point plan of reforms.
However, Greece’s creditors in the EU, led by Germany, have insisted that the terms of the bailout cannot be altered.
Officials from the two sides have been locked in negotiations aimed at reaching a deal on Greece’s debt repayments that would stave off the prospect of its exit from the eurozone – a prospect viewed with fear by the markets.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup eurozone finance ministers, said after the meeting on Wednesday that there had been no discussion of detailed proposals.
“We didn’t enter into negotiations on content of the program or a program, we simply tried to work next steps over the next couple days,” he said.
“We were unable to do that.”
“We had an intense discussion, constructive, covering a lot of ground, also making progress, but not enough progress yet to come to joint conclusions,” he said.
Greece’s finance minister Yanis Varoufakis struck an upbeat note, saying hours of emergency talks in Brussels had produced “very good discussions”.
Greek officials had rejected a draft agreement from the eurozone finance ministers that proposed “extending” the current bailout deal, Reuters reported.
The current EU-IMF bailout for Greece is due to expire on February 28.
The Greek government rejects the “troika” team – the EU, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) – overseeing the bailout’s implementation.
It is asking for a “bridge agreement” that will enable it to stay afloat until it can agree a new four-year reform plan with its EU creditors.
Greece’s debt currently stands at more than €320 billion – about 174% of its economic output (GDP).
On February 11, thousands of left-wing demonstrators rallied in Athens in support of their government’s proposition.
The stakes of the talks over Greece’s debt are high because of fears that a Greek default could push it out of the euro, triggering turmoil in the EU.
The Greek Defense Minister, Panos Kammenos, previously said Greece might seek funding from Russia, China or the US if it failed to reach a new debt agreement with the eurozone.
[youtube HECuslgLqGE 650]