Suspense as Greece′s Tsipras tees up Merkel and Hollande meeting | News | DW | 18.03.2015
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Suspense as Greece's Tsipras tees up Merkel and Hollande meeting

Greek premier Alexis Tsipras has asked for a meeting with counterparts on the sidelines of an EU leaders' meeting. However, Tsipras sounded a note of defiance in advance, vowing that his government would end austerity.

Officials organized the meeting at the request of the Greek prime minister, a spokesman for EU President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

"At the request of Prime Minister Tsipras, EU President Donald Tusk will convene a meeting on Greece Thursday evening after the European Council with the participation of... Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande," a spokesman for Tusk said.

The talks represent a chance for embattled leftist leader Tsipras to convince Merkel and Hollande, to accept his government's promises of reform, thus averting an exit by Athens from the euro.

The meeting was set to be attended by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

The talks are to take place after Greek lawmakers voted to approve a "humanitarian crisis" bill aimed at helping the poorest people in their society. The bill led to concerns among lenders, with Brussels having asked Athens to put the passing of the law on hold amid concerns it would be unaffordable.

Speaking on Wednesday, Tsipras insisted his government would not go back on an election promise to end austerity.

'Made in Athens, not Brussels'

He welcomed the humanitarian crisis law as the first piece of legislation drawn up in Athens - rather than Brussels - to have been passed in the past five years. The law offers food stamps and free electricity to the poor.

Tsipras responded defiantly to a demand by Irish European Commission representative Declan Costello, who said Athens must delay such "unilateral" measures.

"The behavior of some, not all, of our partners and especially some of the technocrats and technocrat teams only confirms the arguments of the Greek side," Tsipras said.

"What else can one say to those who have the audacity to say that dealing with a humanitarian crisis is a unilateral action?"

European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici denied that the EU was trying to stop the Greek government from passing laws, but said Costello's intervention had been correct.

rc/jil (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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