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Varoufakis says Greece committed to eurozone

17 april 2015, 11:11

 Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Thursday that his country is determined to remain in the eurozone, as concerns swirl over a possible debt default and departure from the bloc, AFP reports.

Asked in a Washington forum what Greece is doing in talks with official creditors to avoid "Grexit" -- exit from the eurozone -- Varoufakis said his government refuses to consider that option.

"Toying with Grexit... is profoundly anti-European," he said at the Brookings Institution.

With the clock ticking in EU negotiations for another $7.2 billion euros ($7.8 billion) to keep the Athens government afloat, "Our only rational pro-European response is to spend every waking hour... trying to reach an honorable agreement," he said.

But Varoufakis stressed as well that the country's bailout lenders -- the European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund -- need to give some ground on their demands for reforms, and recognize that the previous bailout approach of deep austerity had failed.

"We've tried that medicine but it hasn't worked," he said.

"We will compromise, we will compromise and we will compromise in order to come to a speedy agreement, but we are not going to be compromised."

The EU has set an April 24 deadline to come to agreement in principle with Athens over terms for a new loan that would allow the country to make key debt payments to the IMF and ECB over the next two months.

Varoufakis was not specific about the issues that are holding up a deal, but said the two sides share "a great deal" of common ground.

But he admitted that government funds are drying up in the current impasse, sparking market fears of an impending default.

"The longer these negotiations go on, the greater the asphyxiation of our economy."

"The negotiation must succeed," he added.

"It will be such a shame that this agreement is not concluded in the next few days, weeks."

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