Greece will not cut salaries and pensions in loan talks: PM16 may 2015, 12:10
Greece's left-wing government will not abandon its refusal to cut salaries and pensions in tough talks with its EU-IMF creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Friday, AFP reports.
"Certain people cannot have at the back of their minds the notion that as time goes on, the endurance of the Greek side will be tested and that its red lines will fade," Tsipras told a conference.
"If they have it in mind, they should forget it, this choice will bring the opposite" to a deal, he said.
Four months of deadlock between Greece's new radical Syriza-led government and its EU-IMF creditors over the reforms needed to release a final 7.2 billion euros in bailout funds has led to concerns Athens is running critically short of cash and may soon end up defaulting, which could set off a messy exit from the euro.
The government is reportedly hoping to reach a deal in early June.
Athens faces a hefty repayment schedule to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in the coming months, while continuing to pay salaries and pensions.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has warned that the country risks running out of cash within two weeks if no deal is reached with its creditors to unlock the last tranche of aid funds.
Around 1.5 billion euros are due to the IMF in June, and then more than six billion euros must be paid to the European Central Bank (ECB) in July and August.
However, Tsipras insisted Friday that domestic payments were safe, and ruled out any cuts to salaries and pensions.
"I want to assure the Greek people that there is no possibility that the government will retreat on salaries and pensions. They have suffered enough," the PM said.
Tsipras said "common ground" had been reached in the four-month creditor talks, "making us optimistic that we are very close to a deal."
But he insisted that any deal had to include a restructuring of Greece's enormous public debt, an issue that key eurozone countries such as Germany are unlikely to accept.
The PM added that Greece since August had repaid 17.5 billion euros in loans to its creditors on its own resources.
This was "legal" but not necessarily "moral", Tsipras said.