Wednesday 26 October 2016

Greece deadline: Emergency German summit as endgame nears

Mehreen Khan

Published 02/06/2015 | 02:30

Alexis Tsipras is struggling to secure a bailout deal for Greece
Alexis Tsipras is struggling to secure a bailout deal for Greece

Greece's creditor powers convened a late-night emergency summit in Berlin on Monday, amid talks the debtor could be handed an ultimatum deal from lenders over its eurozone future.

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German chancellor Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Christine Lagarde and Mario Draghi began an emergency meeting in the German capital at 9.30pm which lastest for two hours. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras was not present, having held a cabinet meeting in Athens earlier on Monday.

A German government spokesman said creditors had agreed there must be more "intensive work" and they would remain in "close contact" over a deal.

The mini-summit comes a day after Mr Tsipras launched a blistering attack at some elements within the creditor bloc, who he accused of "showing total indifference to the recent democratic choice of the Greek people".

"The lack of an agreement so far is not due to the supposed intransigent, uncompromising and incomprehensible Greek stance. It is due to the insistence of certain institutional actors on submitting absurd proposals," Mr Tsipras wrote in Le Monde,

Late-night in Berlin: Greece's paymasters agreed more intensive work was needed

The talks confirm Greece's fate will be decided at the highest level of European diplomacy, after five months of fruitless talks with eurozone officials over the terms of the country's bail-out.

Athens has previously said its paymasters have been split over their demands for the country.

The International Monetary Fund is thought to be demanding some form of further debt relief for the beleaguered country, while urging the Leftist government cut pensions provisions and implement labour market reforms.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker meanwhile has favoured keeing the country in the euro at all costs, consistently warning against the fall-out from a Greek exit.

"Anyone who doesn’t see there is a humanitarian crisis in Greece is deaf and blind to what is happening there," Mr Juncker told a German newspaper on Monday.

Ms Merkel has also long been seen as Greece's best hope for an 11th hour compromise, opening up a split with her hardline finance minister Wolfgang Schauble, who has maintained that Athens' optimism over negotiations has been unfounded.

In order to avoid an unprecedented default, Athens must find €300m to pay the IMF on Friday. Reports in Greek media suggested lenders were preparing to offer Mr Tsipras an "ultimatum" deal, forcing him to accept terms or become the first member of the eurozone to abandon the single currency.

"The creditors want to agree a common position tonight", reported German television station ZDF.

Goldman Sachs warned on Monday that the goverment may need to default on its official lenders to hasten bail-out talks.

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