NEWS

Greek PM faces tough choices as crisis summits loom

Greece faces another critical week as eurozone finance ministers and leaders gather in Brussels on Monday for successive summits aimed at resolving deadlocked negotiations between the Greek government and its creditors that have fueled fears about a possible Greek default and exit from the eurozone.

An extraordinary Eurogroup is to convene first before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras faces his 18 eurozone peers.

According to European Commission sources, Tsipras will be presented with two options: to either accept the reforms proposed by Greece’s creditors, potentially with some Greek amendments, or to prepare his country for a default. If Tsipras is willing to compromise, it is expected that the creditors will extend Greece’s bailout program and probably make a commitment to discuss debt relief.

Talks are likely to continue beyond Monday as technical details cannot be thrashed out at the top political level. But sources indicate that Tsipras could be ready to accept a compromise, with amended proposals on value-added tax and even possible pension reforms in exchange for a firm commitment from creditors on debt relief and a growth-boosting package.

Government officials were locked in talks over the weekend in a bid to finalize Greece’s revised proposals. Several cadres sought to appear upbeat on Greece’s prospects. State Minister Alekos Flambouraris told Mega TV the government was considering several concessions, including curbing early retirement schemes. “Work is being done to see where we can converge, so we achieve a mutually beneficial solution,” he said.

As concerns mount about deposit outflows from banks amid the growing uncertainty, another state minister and close aide to Tsipras, Nikos Pappas, told CNN that “deposits are safe,” following the European Central Bank’s intervention at the end of last week.

Meanwhile, in an article published in the Irish Times on Saturday, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis complained that Greece’s proposals at last week’s Eurogroup were “met with deafening silence.” Most participants, he claimed, “ignored our proposals and reiterated the frustration of ministers that Greece had... no proposals,” Varoufakis wrote.

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