Greece-EU bailout talks break down, Athens given 1 week ultimatum
The eurozone has given Greece an ultimatum of one week to request an extension of its bailout deal, as Athens turned down the offer dubbing it “absurd” and “unreasonable”. Greece’s finance minister said they were ready to sign – but something different. But despite not reaching a deal, Greece Finance Minister Varoufakis insisted Athens is “ready and willing” to reach a deal and that he is confident of reaching one in 2 days, he said in statement after the talks. Varoufakis said that he was ready to agree a deal with creditors giving Athens up to six months credit in return for putting major new budget policies on hold. But this had been swapped for a different proposal from Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup president, which he couldn’t sign because it obliged Athens to extend its current bailout package. As a result the talks, which had been expected to last well into the night, broke down after just four hours. Germany was maintaining a tough line throughout the talks. German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble bluntly said that Greece had lived beyond its means for too long and that Europe could not keep handing over cash without guarantees from the Greeks. “What I have heard so far has not strengthened my optimism. It seems like we have no results so far. I’m quite skeptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently,” he said as he arrived for the talks. The source of the dispute lies in the government of radical left-wing Alexis Tsipras, which was elected in January with a pledge to get rid of the bailout and the crippling austerity measures that have gone with it. Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, said that he was sick of being treated as a “debt colony” and being subjected to “the greatest austerity” for an economy which has been reeling from crisis to crisis. “Our government is not asking our partners for a way out of repaying our debts. We are asking for a few months of financial stability that will allow us to embark upon the task of reforms that the broad Greek population can own and support, so we can bring back growth and end our inability to pay our dues,” he said. However, he insisted that Athens is “ready and willing” to reach deal. More