The crucial talks between the finance ministers of crisis-hit euro zone and Greece over the country’s prevailing debt situation went kaput on Monday after Athens turned down a proposal to request an extension of its international bailout by six-month, while sticking to the conditions.
The unexpected collapse raised eyebrows over the futuristic prospects of Greece in the single currency zone after a new leftist-led government promised scrapping the bailout package of 240 billion euro, reverse the austerity policies and end cooperation with IMF or EU inspectors.
Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who was chairing the crucial meeting, said Greece had time until Friday to make an extension request or else the bailout would expire at the month end.
Addressing a press conference, Dijsselbloem said, “The general feeling in the Eurogroup is still that the best way forward would be for the Greek authorities to seek an extension of the programme.”
The talks were expected to last late night, but broke down in less than four hours.
According to a Greek official, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had snubbed a draft statement that was put before him at the meeting.
“The insistence of some people on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable as well as unacceptable. Those who keep returning to this issue are wasting their time. Under such circumstances, there cannot be a deal today,” the official said.
Ahead of the meet, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had said that the country had been living beyond its means for so long and no appetite was left in Europe that would offer it any more funds without guarantees it was getting its finances in order.
Commenting over the inconclusive Brussels meet, a senior Greek banker said, “Greece’s stance is a very negative development for the economy as well as the banks. The outflows will continue. We are losing 400-500 million every day and that means about 2 billion every week. We will have pressure on stocks and bond yields tomorrow.”
As today’s meeting turned inconclusive, it would be interesting to watch how long Athens succeeds in keeping itself afloat without any global support.
The European Central Bank (ECB) will on Wednesday decide whether to keep the emergency lending to Greek banks bleeding deposits at an estimated two billion euros per week.