Greek PM seeks to shore up domestic support


ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought on Tuesday to muster domestic support for his government in its tug-of-war with EU-International Monetary Fund (IMF) creditors over a deal to save Greece from default.

Tsipras was meeting with a top conservative politician and the leaders of the socialist and pro-EU parties as Greece came under pressure to compromise with no new proposals in the offing.

The radical left government in Athens is resisting calls from the international creditors to increase taxes and pension savings, arguing that such measures have already failed to revive the recession-hit Greek economy.

Greece’s EU-IMF bailout expires on June 30, and it had been hoped that a deal could be reached by Thursday when the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers, who control the purse strings of the rescue program, meet in Luxembourg.

Also at the end of the month, Greece faces a 1.6 billion euro payment to the IMF, with another 6.7 billion euros due to the European Central Bank in July and August, which Greek officials have said the government cannot afford.

But Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Tuesday said Athens will not bring a list of new reform measures to the meeting.

“The Eurogroup is not the right place to present proposals which haven’t been discussed and negotiated on a lower level before,” Varoufakis told the German mass-circulation daily Bild.

But he said the Greek negotiation team is “available at any time” to find a comprehensive solution with its partners “on condition that their representatives come to the table with a firm and clear mandate.”

The talks concerning the release of the 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in rescue funds remaining in Greece’s bailout have dragged on for five months.

A European Commission spokeswoman on Monday said the EU and the IMF had already made “major concessions” to Greece.

“We are not far from a solution but as long as there is no solution there could be a crisis,” French President Francois Hollande said during a visit to Algeria.

He called on Greece to make “alternative proposals” and insisted that “everything possible must be done” to keep the country in the eurozone.



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