Tuesday 30 May 2017

Ultimatum to Greeks: cut deeper or get out of euro

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde (back centre) at the eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday
Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and IMF managing director Christine Lagarde (back centre) at the eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday
Finance Minister Michael Noonan (centre) speaks to fellow ministers in Brussels yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny arrives for the meeting in Brussels yesterday
A woman holds a sign during an anti-austerity protest in central Athens last night
People queue for free food in the Greek capital
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Greece could be ejected from the eurozone for five years unless it manages to pass a suite of savage cuts and radical reform measures through parliament in the coming days.

The most damaging split in the history of the eurozone emerged yesterday as up to nine member states seriously considered the prospect of accepting a so-called 'Grexit'.

European leaders have issued Greece with its final ultimatum: accept our demands or leave the currency for five years.

During a day of tense negotiations, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of a major breakdown of trust with Greece.

"The most important currency has been lost and that's trust. There can be no agreement at any cost," Ms Merkel said.

A dramatic two-day summit in Brussels has seen tempers flare, relations plummet and reports that the Finnish government was on the verge of collapse over the proposed €75bn-plus bailout deal for Greece.

But late last night, it emerged that a German proposal for a five-year temporary exit appeared in a draft document considered by finance ministers.

"In case no agreement could be reached, Greece should be offered swift negotiations on a time-out from the euro area, with possible debt restructuring," the document stated.

Irish officials had no comment to make on the proposal as discussions in Brussels over a Greek bailout continued.

Irish Independent

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