Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is reported to be considering a last-ditch proposal from the European Commission aimed at staving off a looming default. Athens appears set to fail to make a key repayment to the IMF.
A report published on the English-language website of the Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini on Tuesday said Prime Minister Tsipras was considering afresh offer made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
"Kathimerini understands that the pressure caused by the closure of banks as well as the expiration of the Greek bailout program on Tuesday has caused some members of the government to urge Tsipras to accept Juncker's offer," the paper said.
Earlier, news agencies cited both European Union and Greek government officials who said that Juncker's offer was essentially the same as the one that Tsipras and his finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, walked away from on the weekend. According the reports, Junker has offered to call an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers to approve an aid package that would allow Athens to avoid default by putting it in a position to make the 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8 billion) repayment of previous debt to the International Monetary Fund, which is due by the end of this Tuesday.
However, to unlock the funds, not only would Tsipras have to accept the creditors' conditions - something that he has so far refused to do - but he would also have to reverse his recommendation on next Sunday's referendum on the bailout package, recommending that Greeks accept, rather than reject the financial aid. The final stipulation is that he responds positively in time Juncker to convene the meeting before the end of Tuesday.
Amid the latest report, a Greek government press conference scheduled for midday was postponed, and was expected to be rescheduled for sometime in the afternoon. The Reuters news agency also cited an unnamed Greek government source who confirmed that "there are initiatives," without providing further details.
If Tsipras were to suddenly accept the offer made by the creditors, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, it would be a major reversal, coming just hours afterhe appeared on Greek television to tell his fellow countrymen to vote against the offer in the referendum.
"The greater the participation and the rejection of this deal, the greater the possibility will be to restart the negotiations to set a course of logic and sustainability," he told public broadcaster ERT on Monday night.
He also said that Greece, which is widely thought not to have the funds to make the payment to the IMF, had no intention of doing so.
At the same time, Finance Minister Varoufakis also appeared to be in a defiant mood, telling the British newspaper "The Telegraph" that Athens would take the EU to court if it moved to expel it from the eurozone.
"We are taking advice and will certainly consider an injunction at the European Court of Justice. The EU treaties make no provision for [a] euro exit and we refuse to accept it. Our membership is not negotiable," Varoufakis said.
pfd/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)