Sobering end to first round of Greek summit | News | DW | 22.06.2015
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Sobering end to first round of Greek summit

Eleventh-hour talks between eurozone finance ministers have ended in a stalemate. Germany has tried to play down tensions by saying there is still time to reach a deal.

As the emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers to discuss the Greek debt crisis wrapped up without agreement on Monday, it looked as though the leaders' summit scheduled for later in the day would come to the same end.

"Eurogroup ends. Work continues. Institutions assess proposals," Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb tweeted. New talks have been planned for later in the week.

Both sides stubborn on austerity

Athens risks defaulting on its debt on June 30, when it faces a bailout repayment it will not be able to make without more emergency funds. Over the four months of negotiations, Greece's leftist government has repeatedly locked horns with its creditors over one key issue - painful austerity measures which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (pictured above with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker) and his administration say hurt regular Greeks and stifle their economy, and which the creditors say are an absolute necessity if Athens wishes to unlock the next round of bailout funds.

Tsipras' administration presented a new draft of its reform proposals to its eurozone, European Central Bank (ECB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors, but it was met with the same criticism that many of Athens' suggestions have in recent months - that it is too vague, or does not go far enough to curb spending.

"We are still in the same situation as last Thursday," said German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble on Monday, complaining that Athens was not giving them anything substantial to work with.

Deutschland EU Finanzministerrat in Brüssel Schäuble

Germany's Schäuble said "we have so far received no substantive proposals" from Greece.

Merkel tries to quell panic

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz even went so far as to advise Poles traveling to Greece to bring a "large amount of cash," should the banks be forced to close due to default.

Greeks have also been withdrawing large amounts of cash from banks ahead of the June 30 deadline.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, however, tried to temper any panic by reminding the public that "there are still a lot of days left to reach a decision."

She will be among the leading eurozone politicians who are set to meet with the IMF and the ECB in Brussels on Monday evening, a meeting which is expected to end with a similar stalemate as that of the finance ministers. The leaders have said they are awaiting a proposal from Greece that has more technical details.

"The summit is for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to accept the sequence of events, to hear ...that an agreement has first to be reached at a technical level and then accepted by the Eurogroup," a eurozone official told the Reuters news agency.

The ECB extended emergency liquidity for Greek banks for the third time in six days on Monday in light of the news.

es/ng (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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