NEWS

Varoufakis doesn’t rule out rift as Schaeuble warns time running out

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis did not rule out clashing with his eurozone counterparts at Wednesday’s Eurogroup meeting in Brussels as Germany’s Wolfgang Schaeuble warned that Greece would be offered no other deal than the extension of its existing bailout.

“If you’re not willing to even consider a clash, you’re not negotiating,” said Varoufakis in Parliament on Tuesday ahead of a midnight confidence vote, which the coalition was due to win easily as it has 162 seats.

“We’re not seeking a clash. We will do everything to avoid it. But you’re not negotiating if you’ve ruled it out,” added Varoufakis, who insisted that 30 percent of the reforms being demanded by the troika are “toxic.”

Finance Ministry sources suggested on Monday that Athens might be willing to accept the remaining 70 percent of the reforms being demanded as part of an agreement to tide Greece over for the next few months.

Schaeuble, however, expressed concern about the mixed messages coming from Athens. “The public statements are more confusing than helpful,” he said, speaking in Istanbul after a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of 20.

The German finance minister insisted that Greece has to stick to the agreement that the previous government made in order to qualify for another 7.2 billion euros in loan tranches.

“We are not negotiating a new program. We already have a program,” he said. If Greece did not want a new aid program “then that’s it,” added the German.

The European Union’s Economic and Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici indicated that eurozone finance ministers would listen to Greece’s proposals but that there would be little leeway.

“There is no specific plan on the table. Tomorrow the Eurogroup in Brussels is an opportunity for Greece to present its views,” Moscovici told reporters in lstanbul. “We should discuss within the context of a common framework which exists already, which is that of the existing program,” he said.

In Brussels, the European Commission said that its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who spoke to Tsipras on Tuesday, had not made any progress in his talks with Greek officials. “There is no Juncker plan at this stage,” Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told journalists.