Greece to call for EU summit if bailout talks fail

AFP , Friday 20 Feb 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during the first round of a presidential vote at the Greek parliament in Athens, February 18, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Greece said Friday it would request an EU summit should crunch talks at a Eurogroup meeting Friday fail to resolve a bailout crisis which risks seeing Athens exit the eurozone.

"If we do not reach a deal, I think the question can be resolved thanks to political interventions at a higher level. I mean a European summit," State Minister Nikos Pappas, a close ally of Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras, was quoted as telling radio Parapolitika.

Greece was back at the negotiating table with eurozone finance ministers in Brussels Friday in search of a last-minute bailout compromise, with Berlin insisting Athens accept continued austerity in return for renewed debt aid.

But Pappas said the radical left government had no intention of making concessions.

"The message does not change. Either they accept it or they don't. There is no halfway house," he said.

"The idea of us asking permission to legislate is out of the question," he said, after a Greek government source released a document Thursday said to outline Germany's requests, including a demand that Athens "refrain from announcing" new reforms.

Athens pushed back both the announcement and a parliamentary vote on reforms originally scheduled for Friday, including social measures the government wants to introduce to counter austerity policies it says has driven the Greek economy into the ground.

Just hours before the Eurogroup summit was set to begin, Germany appeared to open the door to a last-minute deal between Athens and its creditors, saying Greece's request for a loan extension from its eurozone partners provided "a starting point" for more talks.

"From the German government's point of view, (the request) is still not sufficient," said Christiane Wirtz, spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel. But "it certainly offers a starting point for further talks."

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