Dijsselbloem ‘pessimistic’ about a quick deal with Greece

Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Friday he was pessimistic about making progress on resolving a bitter row over extending Greeces bailout at an upcoming meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

“At this stage I’m very pessimistic about it,” Dijsselbloem told the NOS public broadcaster when asked whether he thought concrete steps will be taken on Monday at the talks between Greece and its fellow single currency countries in the Eurogroup.

“The Greeks have sky-high ambitions. The possibilities, given the state of the Greek economy, are limited,” said Dijsselbloem, who is the Dutch finance minister, ahead of a cabinet meeting on Friday.

“I don’t know if we’ll get there by Monday.”

Dijsselbloem and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed on Thursday to renew efforts to find a solution on extending Greeces current bailout after talks overnight Wednesday collapsed acrimoniously.

An agreement however was reached to ask “institutions to engage with Greek authorities to start work on a technical assessment of the common ground between the current programme and the Greek government’s plans,” Dijsselbloem tweeted after the meeting.

The agreement was made to help discussions set to take place Monday, seen by many as the last chance to seal a deal before Greeces current bailout programme expires at the end of the month.

Dijsselbloem however on Friday blasted Greece, saying Athens “for a number of months now has received no loans from Europe, because nothing’s happening.”

“We only lend out money when theres real progress and when new reforms are being carried through. For months this has not been the case,” Dijsselbloem said.

“It really is up to the Greek government to take the firsts steps,” he said.

Failure to reach a deal on an extension of the bailout or a credit line for Greece by the end of the month means Athens would quickly default and almost inevitably crash out of the eurozone.

European sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Wednesday’s eurozone ministers’ meeting had descended into a “total mess”, making a reconciliation between Dijsselbloem and Tsipras necessary to prepare the talks for Monday.

Dijsselbloem said: “The Greek government has made it clear that they don’t want to carry on with the programme as it currently stands.”

“The Eurogroup has made it clear that there are only possibilities for change as long as the programme remains on the rails.”