Technical talks ahead of Greek debt meeting
Greece was scheduled to begin technical talks with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday in a bid to find common ground between itself and its creditors ahead of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers planned for Monday.
"We will do whatever we can so that a deal is found on Monday but not with measures that will offend the sovereignty of the nation," Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Greek private broadcaster Skai TV, adding: "If we don't have an agreement on Monday, we believe that there is always time so that there won't be a problem."
Sakellaridis said that Greek negotiators would present their proposals for fiscal and humanitarian reforms over the next three days.
Bailout overhaul proposals
Greece risks crashing out of the euro if a renewed agreement on its 240-billion-euro ($270-billion) EU-IMF bailout is not made before it expires at the end of February. Both debtor and creditors made conciliatory moves at a Thursday summit of EU leaders in Brussels, encouraging investors' hopes that they could reach a deal to prevent that from happening. However, the Greek government on Friday cautioned against celebrating too soon.
"We don't want to spread enthusiasm before the deal is done," Sakellaridis told Greek broadcaster Antenna TV according to news agency Reuters.
"Greeks should understand that this is a critical and difficult negotiation, the pressure is enormous," he added.
Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected on an anti-austerity platform and vowed to renegotiate the conditions on the nation's considerable debt, has said he discussed the possibility of a six-month bridging program with his counterparts. The idea was to give his country time to work out a less austere program that would be acceptable to its creditors.
On Thursday he made his case to EU leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, an architect of the austerity measures which have seen Greece face deep cuts in public services since 2010. Despite the tensions surrounding their meeting, compromise was a strong theme.
se/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)