The Eurogroup negotiations are going to continue on Sunday after breaking up Saturday night without a joint communique. The meeting will be held ahead of a European council meeting which is scheduled Sunday afternoon and expected to be attended by European leaders.
Late on Saturday night, Eurogroup Chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem was quoted by the press as saying that there would be an adjournment and that the main issue at the discussion was the issue of trust. He said that although the negotiations are “extremely difficult” there was some progress made.
Here is his complete statement:
"We have adjourned our meeting and will continue tomorrow at 11.00 am. We had an in-depth discussion on Greek proposals. The issue of credibility and trust was discussed and also, of course, the financial issues involved. But we have not concluded our discussion and we will continue at 11.00 am. It is still very difficult, but work is still in progress."Expressing a little bit of optimism, EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that there is a chance that there is still hope for Greece.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said that he is "always" optimistic.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, on the other hand, said that he has had enough of watching Greece being bullied by its lenders and called for an end to the humiliation of Greece. He also said Germany should end the crisis. Reports said that on Sunday Tenzi is going to tell German Chancellor Angela Merkel to stop making it harder for Greece and end the crisis at the European Council on Sunday for the good of the EU.
"Now common sense must prevail and an agreement must be reached. Italy does not want Greece to exit the euro and to Germany I say: enough is enough," Renzi was quoted as saying by Rome-based daily Il Messaggero.Meanwhile, a report from The Guardian said that Timo Soini, the nationalist True Finns leader, even threatened to bring down the government in Helsinki if Alex Stubb, his finance minister, agreed to a new bailout for Greece. The article claims that Stubb apparently came to the crunch meeting on a new bailout without a mandate to agree to one. Stubb was backed by Malta and Slovakia. Nonetheless, when Stubb left the meeting, he said that it was making "good progress".
"Now that Tsipras has made proposals in line with the European demands, we must absolutely sign a deal. Humiliating a European partner after Greece has given up on just about everything is unthinkable," he added.
Meanwhile it was reported that in a position paper, that was obtained by the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble proposed that Athens either improve its bailout plan or take a five-year "time-out" from the eurozone.
According to the article which was published on Sunday, the position paper, which the German Finance Minister sent to the other eurozone countries on Saturday, apparently slams the latest round of reform proposals offered by the Alexis Tsipras government and says that they fail to address "vitally important reform areas to modernize Greece, as well as boost economic growth and sustainable development in the long term.
In Greece, government sources denied that Schaeuble has set a Grexit issue at the Eurogroup meeting.
Taking a swipe at leftist opponents as his party gets set for a tough campaign, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that:
"What's happening (in Greece) today? They're back in recession. Hopefully this weekend the Greek government will finally reach an agreement with European institutions... (but) it won't repair the damage that was caused."In Athens, reports are saying that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is going to make some changes in his cabinet early this coming week if an agreement is reached with EU lenders and measures are approved by parliament.
In a statement issued after the vote in parliament last Friday, which the government won with the help of pro-European opposition parties by 251 votes, the Greek PM said he had a "strong mandate to complete the negotiations to reach an economically viable and socially fair agreement".
"The priority now is to have a positive outcome to the negotiations. Everything else in its own time," he said.In the announcement Tsipras also spoke out to the 17 dissenters in his party, who failed to vote "YES", as well as to a further 15 MPs who issued a statement after the vote saying they voted "YES" to the negotiations but are planning to vote "NO" to the measures.
Meanwhile, reports speculate that Tsipras is going to replace at least two ministers (Panagiotis Lafazanis, leader of the Left Platform faction within Syriza, and Dimitris Stratoulis who is Minister of Labor), because they voted "present" in the vote and may even ask for their resignations. The same reports also say that Tsipras is not happy with President of Parliament Zoi Konstantopoulou either, especially after her manifesto speech at Greek Parliament last Friday night.
At the same time, former Minister of Finance Yianis Varoufakis is coming under a lot of criticism from both within Greece and abroad for wasting five months in worthless negotiations.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Costas Karagounis on Saturday stated that "The only discussion that concerns ND at the moment, as well as all the other citizens, is an agreement to be reached in order the country to remain in the eurozone". Karagounis also noted that "this is and the message of the parliament with the strong mandate to the prime minister to close the deal".
References - SKAI tv (Greece), ERT Tv, Reuters, The Guardian, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, enikos, Rome-based daily Il Messaggero, Protothema, Kathimerini