A meeting of European finance ministers in Luxembourg ended with no agreement on Greece’s debt.
The head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, has said that Greece needs to seize a “last opportunity” to reach a deal with its creditors.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem called on Greece to submit “credible” proposals in the coming days.
To help tackle the crisis, an emergency summit of leaders from Eurozone nations has been called for June 22.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem highlighted that “very little time remains” as Greece’s current bailout program runs out this month.
“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 said.
The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, said his nation had presented a “comprehensive” proposal and that disagreement only existed over spending equivalent to 0.5% of Greek GDP, which he says does not constitute a “dangerous impasse”.
Yanis Varoufakis highlighted that Greece has already made a “gigantic adjustment” over the last five years and rejected any measures that would “jack-up” taxes and reduce benefits further.
He warned that negotiations were “dangerously close to a state of mind that accepts an accident”.
Greece has less than two weeks remaining to strike a deal with its creditors or face defaulting on an existing €1.6 billion loan repayment due to the IMF.
The country has already rolled a €300 million payment into those due on June 30.
If it fails to make the payment, Greece risks has to leave the eurozone and possibly also the EU.
The European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are unwilling to unlock bailout funds until Greece agrees to reforms.
They want Greece to implement a series of economic changes in areas such as pensions, VAT and on the budget surplus before releasing €7.2 billion of funds, which have been delayed since February.
Pressure was also raised on Greece today when the boss of the International Money Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, warned there was “no period of grace” for Greece over its impending debt repayment deadline.
Christine Lagarde said Greece would be in default on its loans from the IMF if it failed to make a €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) payment on June 30.
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.
Greece’s new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis says his government will not negotiate over the Greek bailout conditions with the “troika” team from the EU and IMF.
Yanis Varoufakis said he was rather seeking direct talks with eurozone leaders, to try to cancel more than half the money Greece owes.
The minister was speaking after meeting Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurogroup – the eurozone finance ministers.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece should stick to its reform commitments.
He said Greece and the Eurogroup had a “mutual interest in the further recovery of the Greek economy inside the eurozone” and warned against Athens acting unilaterally in its efforts to renegotiate its bailout.
Greece has endured tough budget cuts in return for its €240 billion ($270 billion) bailout, agreed in 2010 with the “troika” – the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB).
There was little warmth between the two men at the news conference, with Jeroen Dijsselbloem making a brusque exit.
Breaking with tradition, Yanis Varoufakis wore an open-neck shirt – hanging loose at his belt. Jeroen Dijsselbloem was dressed conventionally.
On the troika, Yanis Varoufakis said: “We have no intention of co-operating with a three-member committee whose goal is to implement a program whose logic we consider anti-European.”
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also Dutch Finance Minister, said the two sides would decide what would happen next before the bailout program ends – that is, by February 28.
He also met Greek PM Alexis Tsipras in Athens, who led the Syriza radical left-wing coalition to victory in elections on Sunday.
Yanis Varoufakis, meanwhile, said Greece was not asking for an extension of the existing bailout, but seeking a “new agreement that will emerge following talks between all Europeans”.
He said he would he seek “maximum co-operation” with Greece’s international creditors, but that he would not work through the “troika”, which he called “a committee built on rotten foundations”.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem rejected Alexis Tsipras’s idea of convening a European conference on debt.
“This conference already exists and it’s called the Eurogroup,” he told the news conference.
Syriza won on an anti-austerity platform, promising to have half of Greece’s debt written off, and to roll back on deep cuts to jobs, pay and pensions.
Greece’s economy has shrunk drastically since the 2008 global financial crisis, and high unemployment has thrown many Greeks into poverty.
The new government has already pressed ahead with cancelling major privatization projects, including of the two main ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
But EU officials have warned there is little appetite among eurozone countries for cutting the debt.
Greece has about €20 billion ($22.5 billion) to repay this year, according to the Greek finance ministry.
Economists estimate that Greece needs to raise about €4.3 billion in the first quarter.
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