Business World

Sunday 25 September 2016

Greece crisis: Eurozone split over Grexit ultimatum plan

Niall O’Connor In Brussels

Published 13/07/2015 | 06:23

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Francois Hollande at a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer/Pool
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Francois Hollande at a euro zone leaders summit in Brussels. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer/Pool

MARATHON talks aimed at securing a debt deal for Greece have continued throughout the night as both sides wrangle over a number of key sticking points.

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Despite indications that a deal was close, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is refusing to accept two substantial demands laid down by creditors.

The areas in dispute relate to both the involvement of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a Greek bailout and a proposal that Greece sets aside €50bn worth of State assets for privatisation.

Crucial talks in Brussels involving eurozone leaders began at around 4pm on Sunday. Over 15 hours later and the heads of State and the EU institutions are still locked in negotiations.

Read more: Greece faces choice of more austerity or exit from euro

The main talks broke up on several occasions during the night as a “compromise deal” was tabled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Prime Minister Francois Hollande and European Council President Donald Tusk.

While progress was made on several areas, Mr Tsipras is understood to be strongly resisting a precondition that the IMF be involved in the bailout programme. There is also deep opposition to set aside the billions of euro worth of assets for privatisation.

Earlier, it emerged that Greece was issued with an ultimatum: Implement draconian cuts or face a “time out period” outside of the euro.

Read more: Q&A: What now for troubled nation and the eurozone?

An Irish Government source said that Taoiseach Enda Kenny was among a number of heads of State who argued that this apparent threat be dropped from the draft text being discussed.

Nonetheless, Greece must implement a suite of harsh cuts and radical reform measures immediately if it is to receive its financial bailout.

Political figures are highly sceptical about Mr Tsipras’s ability to pass the measures through parliament given the political instability currently in Greece.

It appears likely that fresh elections are on the cards - perhaps as early as the autumn.

Read more: Timeline: 48 hours of chaotic talks

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