Greece at odds with lenders as time and money running out

Jun 4, 2015, 8:49 AM
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, speaks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis T...
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, right, speaks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras as they arrive for a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Greece's prime minister meets European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 to discuss his radical left-led government's proposal to secure a vital, long-overdue agreement with the country's bailout lenders. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
(AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — With time and money running out, Greece conceded Thursday it has to overcome major disagreements with creditors before it can get its hands on the money it needs to avoid a looming bankruptcy.

Greece, which has a first of a series of repayments to make to the International Monetary Fund starting Friday, needs to break the stalemate if it’s to stay afloat and effectively secure its position among the 19 countries that use the euro.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras failed to break the deadlock in Brussels at a late-night meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Union’s executive arm. That disappointed investors across Europe, with the main Athens stock market unsurprisingly bearing the brunt of the selling, closing down 1.3 percent.

Tsipras noted progress had been made on the scale of the budget surplus that Athens has to meet –effectively the lower the surplus the country has to post the less draconian the budget measures have to be. But he said lingering disagreements over other key issues, such as proposed sales tax hikes and pension cuts, mean that an agreement is not ready.

The Greek government, elected in January on a promise to end the hated-austerity that creditors have demanded in return for bailout cash over the past five years, needs the release of a remaining 7.2 billion euros ($8.2 billion) to pay upcoming big summer debt payments. To access the money it needs creditors to agree to an economic program.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he was “certain” a deal would be struck in the near future and insisted that Greece always aims to repay its debts. And

Greece has a little more than 300 million euros to pay to the IMF on Friday. In total it has around 1.6 billion euros of payments to make to the IMF this month.

And Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, said she was confident that Greece would meet its commitments and cited Tsipras’ quip to questions over Friday’s payment — “don’t worry about it,” he said.

Lagarde also said Greece’s creditors, including the IMF, were showing “significant flexibility” and would do what was necessary to “soften the consequences” of necessary reforms.

As well as grappling with international creditors, Tsipras has to contend with increasingly agitated members of his Syriza party. For them, any measures they think will hurt ordinary Greeks and weaken an already battered economy represent a betrayal of the mandate given in January’s election.

“If the government accepted this proposal, it would have been a disorderly retreat and an agreement to our submission,” Social Security Minister Dimitris Stratoulis told Parliament.

“The entire package of proposals that were submitted (by creditors) yesterday are rejectable by our government,” he said, describing them as an attempt by bailout lenders to impose “neo-colonialism.”

Syriza party secretary Tassos Koronakis described the latest proposals by lenders as “a neoliberal shock tactic” that could not form the basis of an agreement.

“A proposal that describes measures of extreme austerity … shows no respect for the mandate of the Greek people,” he told private Star television.

There’s also aghast that Greece’s creditors haven’t made an offer to reduce the size of Greece’s debt burden, which stands at around 180 percent of the country’s annual national income, way more than any other country in the eurozone. Extending the date when the loans have to be repaid or cutting the interest rates due on those loans could help the country’s recovery make up ground lost during its brutal recession that saw the economy shrink by around a quarter and unemployment and poverty rates sky-rocket.

At an emergency meeting Thursday with ministers, Tsipras called a parliamentary debate for Friday on the course of the bailout negotiations.

Syriza governs in a coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks. The coalition has a majority of 12 seats in the 300-member Greek parliament. The growing dissent in his party has fueled talk of another snap election.

Tsipras is now effectively leading Greece’s talks with creditors and is set to meet “in the coming days” with Juncker and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, according to EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.

The prevailing view in financial markets, despite the day-to-day swings, is that a deal will be secured in time, partly because of the uncertainty a Greek exit from the euro could cause.


AP Writer Lorne Cook in Brussels and Paul Wiseman in Washington contributed to this report.


Follow Gatopoulos at and Becatoros at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
3 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Greece at odds with lenders as time and money running out