Greece's finance minister says he won't be presenting any fresh reform proposals to a meeting of eurozone finance ministers later this week. Cash-for-reform talks between Athens and its creditors have reached a deadlock.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told German mass-market daily "Bild" Tuesday that he wouldn't bring a list of new reform measures to the upcoming meeting of finance ministers because "the Eurogroup is not the right place to present proposals which haven't been discussed and negotiated on a lower level before."
He added, however, that the Greek negotiation team is "available at any time" to find a comprehensive solution with its partners.
Athens has been in talks with its international creditors for months, seeking to unlock another desperately-needed aid tranche worth 7.2 billion-euros ($8.1-billion) in exchange for reforms. Those negotiations collapsed on Sunday, prompting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to call for more "realism" among the three institutions representing Greece's lenders - the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
The European Commission, however, said one of the main stumbling blocks was Greece's unwillingness to agree to substantial reform of its pension system, sales tax, the labor markets and industry.
In his interview with "Bild," Varoufakis said officials from the ECB, IMF and the European Commission needed to come back to the negotiation table "with a clear, robust mandate."
Hope from Merkel?
The finance minister also appealed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to give his country a "Speech of Hope" - similar to that given to Germany at the end of World War II - to show Europe was ready to end its demands of austerity.
"At that time the Germans had to prop up their economic miracle. But someone had to go ahead, forge ahead, and proclaim an end to sanctions, which would otherwise have prevented the economic miracle," Varoufakis said.
"With a new 'Speech of Hope' Mrs. Merkel could take the lead - not just for Greece but for the whole of Europe."
Greece is running out of time to avoid bankruptcy - a prospect which could see it exit the eurozone. The cash-strapped country has to repay the IMF 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) by the end of the month, which is also when the European portion of its international bailout expires.
The eurogroup of finance ministers is due to meet Thursday, by which time creditors had hoped to sign off on a deal with Greece.
nm/bw (AFP, Reuters)