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No deal yet, but Greece sees euro odds improving

Reforms tabled by the Greek government in a bid to secure a third bailout have sparked positive reactions. But observers have warned a thorough assessment is still necessary and the proposals may not go far enough. If British bookmakers are anything to go by, the chance that Athens avoids having to leave the eurozone is constantly improving. Bookmakers told Reuters news agency the odds of Greece's leaving the common currency area at at 25 percent to 30 percent - the lowest they have been this year. The Greek government's formal request to the permanent bailout fund known as European Stability Mechanism (ESM) along a set of proposals regarding policy commitments and actions, including reforms of value-added tax rates and changes to the pension system, seem to be enough to convince bookmakers, but European officials have said they want to take a closer look at the fine print. Greece had entered the commitment to put forth both the request and the plan for the country's economic reforms at a special summit of Eurozone leaders on Tuesday. Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, had gone into Tuesday's summit saying it was likely going to be "a waste of time," but he seemed more positively inclined towards the Greek proposals. French President Francois Hollande called the Greek proposals "serious" and "credible," though he also added the caveat that "nothing had been decided." No adjectives When asked to provide adjectives describing the proposals, an EU official familiar with the negotiations of the Eurogroup, which brings together the finance ministers of all 19 eurozone countries, said he would volunteer merely a verb: "Arrived." Margaritis Schinas, spokesperson for the European Commission, didn't go beyond stating that the Greek government had sent its reform proposals to the three institutions involved in the process, namely the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as well as to the president of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem. "The three institutions are currently analyzing these proposals with the intention to communicate their assessments to the Eurogroup" before the end of Friday, Schinas said. Dijsselbloem's spokesman, Michael Reijns, also refused to provide any further detail about officials' views of the proposals. Aside from evaluating the proposals submitted by Athens, the institutions also have to judge whether the requirements of the ESM treaty are met - namely whether Greece's situation constitutes a threat "to the financial stability of the euro area as a whole," whether Greece's public debt is sustainable and what the country's financing requirements are. Carbon copy of June proposals? On a number of points, the Greek government has proposed to adopt the measures that creditors had requested in order to unlock the remaining 7.2 billion euros of the second bailout two weeks ago - measures that had prompted the Greek government to break off negotiations and that were later overwhelmingly rejected by Greeks in a referendum on Sunday. Pension reform has long been a point on contention between Greece and the international creditors. Greece has now proposed to raise the retirement age progressively to 67 by 2022, as well as to phase out a solidarity payment for pensioners by the end of 2019. On the issue of reforming the value-added tax (VAT), the Greek government has conceded to many of the creditors' demands, and said it will introduce a VAT system with a standard rate of 23 percent. Exceptions will, however, continue to be made as reduced rates of 13 percent will be charged to energy, hotels and water, and pharmaceuticals, books and theaters will be subject to 6 percent VAT. On the divisive issue of a favorable tax status of Greek islands, Athens says it will gradually eliminate the discounts but will not lift the special tax status for the most remote islands. Will it be enough for a bailout? Despite the apparent congruence of reforms proposed by Greece now and those demanded by creditors two weeks ago, it is unclear whether the former will be considered by eurozone finance ministers as providing sufficient basis for opening negotiations. Martin Jäger, spokesman for the German Finance Ministry, said on Friday it wasn't enough to simply "present the June proposals in a new packaging." After the summit on Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that requirements of such an ESM rescue program were much more demanding and different from what was being negotiated two weeks ago. "We are not just talking about conditions for a program that would have run only until November of this year," Merkel said. "We are talking about a new program that would stretch over several years." The sum of this new bailout program is widely quoted to be 53.5 billion euros, though neither the letter of request nor the reform proposals put forth by the Greek government make any mention of a specific sum, and the assessment of Greek financing needs by the European Commission, ECB and IMF is still outstanding. "The Wall Street Journal" and "Financial Times" have both estimated that the bailout sum will be considerably bigger than 53.5 billion euros. Steps before negotiations could begin Should the eurozone finance ministers' meeting at on Saturday agree that there is sufficient basis for negotiations about a third bailout, an EU summit scheduled for Sunday would be canceled. But six eurozone members - including Germany - would have to get parliamentary approval before the Eurogroup could actually give a mandate to the European Commission to start negotiating a third bailout program. Even though a standing meeting of eurozone finance ministers is scheduled for Monday, it is highly unlikely that a mandate for negotiations could be made so quickly. "All I can say at this stage about Monday is that there is this agenda item about Greece, and we simply don't know what we will be discussing under this agenda item," the EU official familiar with Eurogroup negotiations said. "I understand that some of the countries that have to go to their national parliaments would be doing so on Monday or Tuesday, so it's obviously something where you can't already start mandating the institutions with commencing the negotiations." Short-term financing needed With Greece due to pay back 460 million euros to the IMF on Monday, and - according to analysts at - an initial payment of civil servants' wages amounting to almost 400 million euros on the same day, the government is in urgent need of cash. If it does not receive additional financing, Greece is widely expected to go bankrupt on July 20 when a payment of almost 3.5 million euros to the ECB is due. These financial realities notwithstanding, the EU official made clear that there would be no discussion about possible "bridge financing" on Saturday. "That will be dealt with if and when there is a program," he said.

Reforms tabled by the Greek government in a bid to secure a third bailout have sparked positive reactions. But observers have warned a thorough assessment is still necessary and the proposals may not go far enough. If British bookmakers are anything to go by, the chance that Athens avoids having to leave the eurozone is constantly improving. Bookmakers told Reuters ... Read More »

Greek PM Tsipras demands agreement amid third bailout request

جرمنی نے یونانی پارلیمان پر زور دیا ہے کہ وہ وزیر اعظم الیکسس سپراس کی طرف سے پیش کردہ نئے اصلاحاتی منصوبے کو منظور کر لے۔ جرمن وزارت خزانہ کے ترجمان نے یورو زون کے وزرائے خزانہ کی میٹنگ کے بعد کہا کہ اس منصوبے پر مذاکرات کے دروازے ابھی تک کھلے ہیں۔ اس میٹنگ میں ایتھنز سے یہ مطالبہ بھی کیا گیا ہے کہ ٹیکس اور پینشن نظام میں خصوصی اصلاحات کی جائیں۔ بتایا گیا ہے کہ یونانی مالی بحران کے حل کے لیے یورپی رہنما مسلسل ملاقاتوں میں مصروف ہیں۔ یونانی پارلیمان اس نئے منصوبے پر آج شام بحث کرے گی۔

Greece has formally applied for a third bailout from the European Stability Mechanism. The announcement has followed Greek PM Tsipras’ address to the EU Parliament, in which he demanded a “viable” solution to the crisis. For the first time since assuming office in January, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed the European Parliament on Wednesday. Tsipras told the democratically-elected body ... Read More »

Polls open in Greece’s ‘make or break’ referendum

Greece is about to decide whether to accept creditors' proposal in a referendum that has left the country polarized. While the government has called for a "No," it is unclear if Greeks will acquiesce to their request. Months-long negotiations between the Greek government and the country's creditors - European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - ended in late June after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made a shock call to put a creditors' proposal for extending the debt-stricken country's bailout program to a referendum. Polling stations were scheduled to open at 7:00 a.m. local time (4:00 UTC). Independent polls have shown a tight race between opposing camps ahead of the vote, despite Tsipras urging Greeks to vote "No." In the five months since the prime minister came to power on a platform to renegotiate the terms of Greece's bailout program and end austerity, no deal could be agreed upon during the country's negotiations with its creditors, leading to Greece's failure to meet an IMF repayment deadline of June 30. On that day, Greece made history by becoming the first industrialized country to default on a loan from the IMF#link:18558921, an event that caused jitters in global financial markets, not least in the eurozone. The vote has left Greeks and Europeans divided. On Friday, two mass rallies vying for the opposite camps were held in Athens, the country's capital, and left Greeks outside of the country skeptical. But the referendum has also polarized much of Europe; from thousands demonstrating in several European capitals in support for the "No" vote to leading eurozone officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pushing for a "Yes" vote. The referendum has been described as a plebiscite on Greece's inclusion in the eurozone as well as a vote of no-confidence in the government. Only the Greek government's move following the referendum's results will tell.

Greece is about to decide whether to accept creditors’ proposal in a referendum that has left the country polarized. While the government has called for a “No,” it is unclear if Greeks will acquiesce to their request. Months-long negotiations between the Greek government and the country’s creditors – European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ... Read More »

Eurozone finance ministers rule out talks ahead of Greek referendum

Eurozone ministers have said there are "no grounds" for more discussions ahead of a referendum for the Greek people to decide on the terms of the latest bailout. However, a funding lifeline to Greece was extended. Dutch Foreign Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers known as the eurogroup, said on Wednesday that talks should not take place before the vote. Dijsselbloem cited Athens' rejection of the previous proposals from Brussels - as well as the July 5 referendum - as grounds that precluded further negotiation. "There will be no talks in the coming days, either at eurogroup level or between the Greek authorities and the institutions on proposals or financial arrangements," Dijsselbloem said. In a televised address earlier on Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras - who announced the referendum last Saturday - reiterated that citizens should vote "no" to the current terms on the table from creditors. He insisted it did not mean a "no" to the euro as Greece's currency. "No does not mean rupture with Europe," but rather a return to European values, Tsipras said. Ray of light from Frankfurt There was positive news for Greece from the European Central Bank on Wednesday, as the banks's Governing Council decided not to pare back a funding lifeline currently allowing Greeks to withdraw money at the ATM and to receive pensions. Any tightening of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance ceiling would have forced Greece to lower its 60 euro-per-day limit on cash withdrawals. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis thanked the bank and its president, Mario Draghi, for the decision. "This allows us to breathe," Varoufakis told state television. "It's a very positive move and a move of goodwill on the part of the European Central Bank," Varoufakis said. 'Dark moment for Europe' Varoufakis said a deal might still be reached with creditors after Sunday's referendum. He blamed creditors for the country's banking closures. "This is a very dark moment for Europe. They have closed our banks for the sole purpose of blackmailing what? Getting a 'Yes' vote on a non-sustainable solution that would be bad for Europe," he said in a live interview that was broadcast on state-run TV Wednesday. Greece faces further debt repayments, notably on July 20 when Greek bonds held by the ECB and eurozone national central banks - worth some 3.5 billion euros - mature. Greece defaulted on its 1.6-billion-euro ($1.8-billion) repayment to the IMF loan earlier this week, the first default to the Fund by an advanced economy. Greece's refusal of creditor's terms ahead of the deadline meant that Athens' European bailout also expired.

Eurozone ministers have said there are “no grounds” for more discussions ahead of a referendum for the Greek people to decide on the terms of the latest bailout. However, a funding lifeline to Greece was extended. Dutch Foreign Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers known as the eurogroup, said on Wednesday that talks should not ... Read More »

Greece teeters on the edge of default

Alexis Tsipras has urged his fellow Greeks to vote against a bailout package proposed by Athens' international creditors. Greece faces a Tuesday deadline to repay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF or will be in default. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared on state television Monday, urging his fellow citizens to vote in an upcoming referendum against a bailout package proposed by Greece's creditors. "We ask you to reject it with all the might of your soul, with the greatest margin possible," Tsipras said. "The greater the participation and the rejection of this deal, the greater the possibility will be to restart the negotiations to set a course of logic and sustainability." Greece is facing a Tuesday deadline for repaying 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the bill is likely to be left unpaid as Athens has been unable to reach a deal for an extension with its IMF and eurozone creditors. Tsipras added that the result of the July 5 referendum on a proposed aid deal with Greece's creditors - the EU Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank - would be respected, but that his government would not be the one to implement it. "If the Greek people want to proceed with austerity plans in perpetuity, which will leave us unable to lift our heads ... we will respect it, but we will not be the ones to carry it out," Tsipras said. Hinting that he could step down if the referendum passed, Tsipras said he was not a prime minister who would remain in place "in all weathers." International community urges "yes" vote Foreign leaders ramped up the pressure on Greece Monday, urging Athens to accept a bailout deal. "If the ability to find compromises gets lost, then Europe is lost," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party conference in Berlin Monday. She left the door open to future talks however, even if a majority of Greeks vote against the proposed bailout. "We will of course not rule out or ignore such negotiations," Merkel said. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for a "yes" vote, saying that "the message received in the other eurozone members, in the EU, in global society would be that Greece wants to stay together with the other eurozone and EU member states." US President Barack Obama told French President Francois Hollande in a phone call Monday that Greece should not leave the currency union, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi sought to make the stakes clear in a tweet on Monday. But Greeks may not prove receptive to the pleas of foreign leaders. As the drama continued to unfold Monday, thousands of defiant Tsipras supporters took to the streets of Athens, accusing Greece's creditors of blackmail. At least 20,000 protesters gathered on the main avenue in front of the Greek parliament to voice their opposition to the latest potential bailout deal. "Our lives do not belong to the creditors!" read placards held high by protestors. Other banners simply said "no!" and "Don't back down."

Alexis Tsipras has urged his fellow Greeks to vote against a bailout package proposed by Athens’ international creditors. Greece faces a Tuesday deadline to repay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF or will be in default. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appeared on state television Monday, urging his fellow citizens to vote in an upcoming referendum against a bailout package ... Read More »

Tsipras to resume Greece bailout talks ahead of EU summit

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was set to meet with EU-IMF creditors early on Thursday with hopes of finally striking a bailout deal. Talks were due to be held just hours before a high-profile EU summit in Brussels. The Greek PM was due to resume negotiations with his country's creditors at 9 a.m. local time (0700 UTC) on Thursday, with economic reforms and austerity at the top of the morning's agenda. According to European Union (EU) sources, Tsipras also met with top representatives of the European creditor countries late on Wednesday night, after an initial five-hour round of intense negotiations failed to produce a breakthrough earlier in the day. "We're making progress, but there are still some outstanding issues to be resolved," European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said late on Wednesday evening. Rejected proposals According to sources in Brussels, differences still remain on issues such as pension cuts, changes to the Greek value added tax and a Greek demand for a shift of its debt from the European Central Bank (ECB) to the eurozone's bailout fund. Greece's latest proposals to the creditors had included a fiscal adjustment of around 8 billion euros ($9 billion) by the end of 2016. The reduction in the government's primary budget deficit would be attained by increasing taxes on consumers, businesses and the wealthy, as well as by passing pension reforms which would focus on phasing out early retirement. Eurozone finance ministers were also due to reconvene at 1 p.m. local time (1100 UTC) on Thursday to assess the situation further, before beginning a two-day EU summit in Brussels. Ahead of Thursday's meeting, Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said finance ministers were still "determined" to reach a deal. 'Grexit' still possible With a deadline looming, time is running out for Greece, which is due to repay the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) by June 30. For months, Greece has been struggling to settle an agreement with its creditors, with which it hopes to access the remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in the IMF's bailout funds. Unlocking the remaining funds would enable Greece to avoid a default on its IMF loan, which analysts fear could force the country to exit the eurozone and possibly even the EU.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was set to meet with EU-IMF creditors early on Thursday with hopes of finally striking a bailout deal. Talks were due to be held just hours before a high-profile EU summit in Brussels. The Greek PM was due to resume negotiations with his country’s creditors at 9 a.m. local time (0700 UTC) on Thursday, with ... Read More »

Merkel facing ‘stark choice’ about Greece’s eurozone fate: Varoufakis

Greece's finance minister has said that it will be Chancellor Angela Merkel who will decide his country's eurozone fate. The comments come ahead of an emergency EU summit to discuss Greece's financial crisis. In a column to be published in Sunday's edition of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine" newspaper, Varoufakis wrote that the onus will be on Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the leader of Europe's biggest economy, to save Greece from going into default. "On Monday, [when EU leaders gather for an emergency summit in Brussels], the German chancellor will face a stark choice," Varoufakis wrote. "Enter into an honorable agreement with a government that opposed the 'bailouts' and which seeks a negotiated solution that ends the Greek crisis once and for all. Or ... heed the sirens from within the [German] federal government encouraging her to jettison the only Greek government that is principled and which can carry the Greek people along the path of genuine reform," he argued. "The choice, I am very much afraid, is hers," he concluded. At the same time Varoufakis raised the prospect of new concessions from Athens aimed at convincing its European Union and International Monetary Fund creditors that Greece's left-wing government is serious about combating its massive public debt. 'Determination to compromise' "Our side will arrive in Brussels with the determination to compromise further as long as we are not asked to do what previous governments did: to accept new loan tranches under conditions that offer little hope that Greece can repay its debts," he wrote, without providing any detail about what concrete measures Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' government was prepared to take. After months of wrangling over what budget cuts or other economic reforms the left-wing Syriza government would be willing to implement in return for the release of the final 7.2-billion-euro ($8.1 billion) tranche of Greece's international bailout, there have been indications that patience among the country's eurozone partners is wearing thin. On Friday, Merkel said at an event in Berlin that unless a compromise acceptable to Greece's creditors had been reached ahead of the emergency summit in Brussels, no decision could be taken on Monday. There were reports that Tsipras may be planning to contact European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker by telephone over the course of the weekend in an effort to break the deadlock. However, by late Saturday, it wasn't clear whether there had been any discussions or if any progress had been made. Also speaking with the "Frankfurter Allgemeine," European Parliament President Martin Schulz warned the Greek government of the possible consequences of exiting the eurozone. "What doesn't work: leaving the euro, not paying back your debts but expecting funds to keep flowing merrily from the EU budget," he said. Greece is facing a June 30 deadline to meet a 1.6-billion-euro loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Should it fail to do so, as is expected to be the case if the bailout funds are not released, it would go into default, possibly triggering a scenario popularly dubbed a "Grexit." This would see Greece leave the eurozone and possibly even cease to be a member of the European Union.

Greece’s finance minister has said that it will be Chancellor Angela Merkel who will decide his country’s eurozone fate. The comments come ahead of an emergency EU summit to discuss Greece’s financial crisis. In a column to be published in Sunday’s edition of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine” newspaper, Varoufakis wrote that the onus will be on Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the ... Read More »

Tsipras misleading Greece, says EU commission chief Juncker

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of misinforming his people. Athens' voters were not being told the truth about the commission's proposals, he alleges. The European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker targeted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with his criticism, saying the leader wasn't giving his citizens correct information about the EU's proposals. "I don't care about the Greek government…I do care about the Greek people, mainly the poorest part," Juncker said at a news briefing in Brussels. "The debate in Greece and outside Greece would be easier if the Greek government would tell exactly what the commission is really proposing," the commission chief added, referring to lenders' proposals which would pave the way for Athens to receive its 7.2 billion euro (8.1 billion dollars) installment - the last of the 240-billion-euro economic recovery package to the country. Greece's creditors, which include the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) proposed a 10 percentage point increase in value added tax (VAT) on electricity. However, Juncker said he himself opposed the proposal: "I'm not in favor, and the prime minister knows that, I'm not in favor of increasing VAT on medicaments or electricity." He said the commission had instead proposed a 35-billion-euro program to support investments in Greece and floated the idea of a "modest cut in the Greek defense budget," which constitutes two percent of the country's gross domestic product. Athens needs to make 'a serious move' Greece has to pay 1.6 billion euros to the IMF by the end of this month, which is also when the deadline for the country's European bailout expires. Alexis Tsipras is desperately struggling to avoid a debt default in two weeks that could force it to exit the eurozone. The Greek premier had earlier communicated to his allies in Athens that the EU and the IMF were proposing tax hikes to "humiliate not only the Greek government…but humiliate an entire people." His comments came shortly before a eurozone ministers meeting on Athens' debt deal, prompting the United States to press for an agreement before the crisis became even more severe. Washington's Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Tsipras over a phone call that his country needed to make "a serious move to reach a pragmatic compromise with its creditors." Failing to agree "would create immediate hardship for Greece and broad uncertainties for Europe and the global economy," Lew said.

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of misinforming his people. Athens’ voters were not being told the truth about the commission’s proposals, he alleges. The European Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker targeted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras with his criticism, saying the leader wasn’t giving his citizens correct information about the EU’s proposals. “I don’t ... Read More »

Tsipras warns Greece of ‘difficult compromise’ after creditors’ default threat

The Greek prime minister has warned his country to prepare for a "difficult compromise" with EU and IMF creditors. Greece has submitted its last chance proposal to Brussels to avert a catastrophic default by Athens. In a bid to end of five-month standoff with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) Commission, and the European Central Bank, Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday that he was willing to accept unpalatable compromises to secure a deal, provided he gets debt relief in return. The EU and IMF are demanding tough reforms in exchange for giving Athens the 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) still remaining in its international rescue package. "If we arrive at a viable accord, even if it is a difficult compromise, we will take up the challenge because our only criteria is to get out of the crisis," Tsipras was quoted as telling Greek officials in a government statement. Preparation for default Athens is under huge pressure to strike an agreement to unlock the vital bailout funds in the coming days, with top eurozone officials saying on Friday that they were preparing the ground for an Athens default. "In discussions, a default was mentioned as one of the scenarios that can happen when everything goes wrong," a eurozone official told AFP news agency. Road to 'Grexit' The months-long saga over Greece's refusal to submit reforms will come to a head at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg on Thursday, by which point a deal is necessary in order to give national parliaments time to approve it before the bailout expires on June 30. Within the last 10 days of June, Greece also faces a huge 1.6 billion euro payment to the IMF and a further 3.4 billion euros to the European Central Bank. Although no specifics are known regarding what would happen should Greece fail to make the payments, Athens could potentially see the introduction of capital controls, closure of banks, and the government issuing IOUs to keep the public sector financially viable. The drastic measures would also pave the way for Greece's from the euro - a possibility which officials are ruling out for now.

The Greek prime minister has warned his country to prepare for a “difficult compromise” with EU and IMF creditors. Greece has submitted its last chance proposal to Brussels to avert a catastrophic default by Athens. In a bid to end of five-month standoff with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union (EU) Commission, and the European Central Bank, Alexis ... Read More »

Germany leans on Greece to improve reform plans

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Greece needs to pick up the pace in negotiations with international creditors to get a bailout. Greece is facing bankruptcy but must pacify creditors before receiving a loan. The message German Chancellor Angela Merkel had for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the rest of the government in Athens was clear on Thursday. "Every day counts," she said, adding that it's time for Athens to speed things up. Merkel's comments in Brussels came a day after she and French President Francois Holland met with Tsipras to intensify negotiations among Greece and its creditors in a last-ditch effort to avoid a Greek default. "At the end of the discussion, there was absolute unity that Greece will work emphatically and intensely with the three institutes to clear up open questions as much as possible," Merkel said, referring to Greece's international lenders of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. Warning of worse The head of the German central bank, Jens Weidmann, made similar statements to a London investment seminar on Thursday. "There is a strong determination to help Greece," the Bundesbank boss said. "But time is running out, and the risk of insolvency is increasing by the day." He added that while Greece was better prepared for an insolvency scenario than it had been when the threat loomed large in years past. "The main losers in that scenario would be Greece and the Greek people," Weidmann said. In Athens, a group of trade union activists occupied the Finance Ministry in protest of the prospect of further cuts that they see as bring imposed on Greece by the country's international lenders. As one of the strongest economies in Europe, Germany is often a particular focus of protesters' anger. Enough is enough Negotiations to resolve the crisis have been at an impasse over Greece's rejection of its creditors' austerity demands, including cuts in pensions, as a condition for the release of additional bailout funds. Without the funds, Greece will likely default on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) repayment it is scheduled make to the International Monetary Fund by the end of June. When he was elected in January, Tsipras said the under his Syriza-led government, many of the deep reforms implemented by the previous government to satisfy international creditors would be rolled back. On Thursday, Tsipras fulfilled a campaign promise of reopening the country's public broadcaster, ERT, which had been closed two year ago as part of austerity measures.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Greece needs to pick up the pace in negotiations with international creditors to get a bailout. Greece is facing bankruptcy but must pacify creditors before receiving a loan. The message German Chancellor Angela Merkel had for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the rest of the government in Athens was clear on Thursday. “Every ... Read More »

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