Date
23 May 2017
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (left) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker share a light moment during their talks. Photo: Bloomberg
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (left) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker share a light moment during their talks. Photo: Bloomberg

EU chief rebukes Greece, demands swift debt plan

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker rebuked leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and and warned that time was running out to conclude a debt deal to avert a damaging default.

In unusually sharp terms, Juncker accused Tsipras of distorting proposals by international creditors for a cash-for-reform agreement and of dragging his feet in offering an alternative, Reuters reported.

He urged Athens to put its own ideas on the table swiftly to enable talks to resume on the sidelines of an EU-Latin America summit on Wednesday in Brussels.

US President Barack Obama discussed the Greek crisis with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in private talks before a Group of Seven industrial nations’ summit in Germany and expressed hope that Greece and its partners would chart a course without causing volatility in financial markets, the White House said.

Merkel said she, Juncker and French President Francois Hollande briefed the G7 leaders on the Greek debt talks.

“We could not say that the problem was solved,” she told ZDF television, adding there was still a lot of work to do and “we haven’t reached the finishing line yet”.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said G7 leaders agreed that everything must be done to prevent Greece leaving the euro zone but it was up to Athens now to give a positive signal.

In Athens, a government official said Greece wanted to continue to negotiate “at a political level” to find convergence with the lenders.

However, the euro zone and the International Monetary Fund have made clear the numbers must first add up in technical negotiations before there can be a political deal.

Tsipras had been expected to return to Brussels last Friday to resume negotiations. But faced with a backlash against the creditors’ proposal in his Syriza party, he went to parliament in Athens instead and denounced the offer as “absurd”.

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