Only short extension to bailout will do for Athens

Greece insisted on Thursday that it is only examining the option of extending its bailout for a few weeks rather than months despite some eurozone countries declaring their support for a six-month prolongation at Thursday’s meeting of the Euro Working Group in Brussels.

Finance Ministry sources denied that any official document was produced outlining the proposal for the bailout to be lengthened by six months but said that some countries had made it clear that this was their preference as the extension would cover the period of possible early elections in March if Parliament fails to elect a president.

“Although the purpose of the technical extension would be to give more time to the Greek authorities to prepare legislation for adoption in January 2015, the technical extension could be for a longer period to cover for the possibility of delays in the runup to the Greek presidential elections,” a document that has been prepared for eurozone finance ministers, who meet on December 8, says, according to Reuters.

“Greece’s position remains that it is only asking for a short-term technical extension,” said a Finance Ministry official on condition of anonymity.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Deputy Premier Evangelos Venizelos are due to meet on Friday morning to discuss the course of Greece’s negotiations with the troika.

On Thursday, Samaras attended a meeting of a New Democracy committee that has put together proposals for changes to the Constitution. Speaking to journalists afterward, he ruled out the possibility of the government opting to call for early elections before the presidential vote.