Greece made a small interest payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday, but European lenders dashed hopes for a cash-for- reforms deal before a more crucial, bigger instalment Athens must pay next week.
Leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s government sought to shift blame on Tuesday onto the eurozone and IMF for a lack of agreement in the three-month-old negotiations, charging that each was setting different “red lines” on multiple issues from pension and labour reforms to the primary budget surplus.
However, EU officials accuse Greece of failing to produce enough concessions ahead of Monday’s Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers and the group’s chief, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said an agreement then is no longer possible.
“Since the last Eurogroup, quite a bit of progress has been made,” he said in Paris. “I’m getting some positive reports from the talks in Brussels. Still, lots of issues have to be solved, have to be deepened more, with more details, so there will be no agreements on Monday. We have to be realistic,” he said.
Athens is hoping the Eurogroup registers significant progress in the talks, possibly enabling the European Central Bank to let Greek banks buy more short-term government debt.
The ECB’s governing council was expected to extend emergency liquidity assistance to the Greek banks yesterday, but any further move depends on progress in the reform talks, central bank sources said.
Thomas Wieser, head of the Eurogroup Working Group which prepares decisions for the ministers, told CNBC late on Tuesday that as things stood there was no prospect of a deal by Monday.
Deputy finance minister Dimitris Mardas said Athens had sent €200m to the IMF yesterday but declined to comment on next week’s €750m payment to the IMF.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved