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EU chief refuses to talk to Greece's Tsipras

07 june 2015, 13:33
0
Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras (L) walks with European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. ©AFP
Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras (L) walks with European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. ©AFP

 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker refused a request from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to talk on the phone on Saturday after the Greek leader rebuffed creditor proposals as "absurd", AFP reports.

"I can confirm that there was a request for a call... No phone call today," a commission spokesperson said.

"President Juncker and Prime Minister Tsipras will certainly stay in contact in the coming days," as negotiators in Brussels agreed on Wednesday, the official added.

At the talks, which went into late hours, Juncker laid out a list of reforms that the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are demanding in exchange for unlocking the final tranche of a bailout agreement, 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion).

Athens desperately needs the funds to honour debt payments amid fears a default could lead to a messy Greek exit from the eurozone.

Creditors want the radical-left government in Athens to increase sales tax rates and cut civil servants' salaries and pensions, while Greece is seeking less harsh reform requirements.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem described the Wednesday talks as a "very good meeting", adding that negotiations would resume within days.

Back in Athens, Tsipras opted to bundle four IMF loan payments into a single one due by the end of June, with just weeks to reach an agreement with creditors.

In a speech to parliament on Friday, he lashed out against the creditors' reform proposals.

"It is clear that the Greek government cannot under any circumstances consent to absurd proposals," Tsipras said, while arguing Athens was close to an agreement.

The outburst was coldly received in some European circles, with one source saying it was tantamount to Tsipras "spitting in the soup".

However, with the Greek leader under pressure from hard-left cynics within his party, a source involved in the talks dismissed his harsh words as "rhetorical".

"We can expect a trade-off at the G7" gathering on Sunday and Monday in Germany, where leaders will be meeting with Juncker and IMF chief Christine Lagarde, the source said.

Then on Tuesday, Tsipras, Juncker and Dijsselbloem might meet again in Brussels, the source added.


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