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Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis rejects EU bailout offer

2015-02-16 23:17:13

Yanis VaroufakisYanis Varoufakis: "We are ready and willing to do whatever it takes"

Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says he is ready to do "whatever it takes" to reach agreement on its bailout in the next two days.

Mr Varoufakis was speaking after talks with EU finance ministers broke down earlier than expected, with Greece describing the EU's offer as "absurd".

"I have no doubt that there is going to be a agreement in the end which will be very therapeutic for Greece," he said.

Greece wants the conditions of its €240bn (£178bn) bailout restructured.

Mr Varoufakis said "within the next 48 hours" Europe would find the phrasing that was necessary to satisfy both Greece and Europe.

But he said there was "substantial disagreement" on whether the task ahead was to complete the current programme, which his government has pledged to scrap.

Mr Varoufakis also said that he had been presented with a draft communique which he had been ready to sign, but that it had been withdrawn minutes before the meeting started.

The Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem also said there was still time for Greece to agree an extension.

"There is time and ample room to agree on the terms of an extension. When I listen to my Greek colleagues talking about a bridging loan and so on - that's a different word for an extension," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

He said says another meeting was possible this Friday but that it was "up to the Greeks".

"My strong preference is and still is to get an extension of the programme, and I think it is still feasible," he told a press conference.

Greece's current bailout expires on 28 February. Any new agreement would need to be approved by national governments so time is running out to reach a compromise, without which Greece is likely to run out of money.

The Grexit explained - in 60 seconds


Analysis: Andrew Walker, World Service economics correspondent:

Two pressing financial issues loom over Greece: whether the government can pay its bills and the stability of the banks.

Greek officials have said the government could keep going for several months, but there are doubts. How long it takes depends to a great extent on Greek taxpayers.

The banks have already seen money being withdrawn and increasingly need central bank loans. If there is no bailout programme, the European Central Bank could pull the plug on the banks.

If it came to that, it really would mean a major financial crisis, with perhaps the imposition of extensive financial controls to prop up the banks and possibly even the re-introduction of a national currency.

It's hard to nail down a date by which an agreement must be done to avert some sort of financial Armageddon, because it depends on the actions of taxpayers, bank customers and the ECB. But time is getting short.


Before the meeting, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had already said he was not optimistic a deal would be reached: "The problem is that Greece has lived beyond its means for a long time and that nobody wants to give Greece money any more without guarantees."

But French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said European leaders needed to respect the political change in Athens. As he arrived in Brussels he urged the Greeks to extend their current deal to allow time for talks.

Yanis VaroufakisProtesters showed their solidarity with Greece at a rally in Trafalgar Square at the weekend


Greece has proposed a new bailout programme that involves a bridging loan to keep the country going for six months and help it repay €7bn (£5.2bn) of maturing bonds.

The second part of the plan would see the county's debt refinanced. Part of this might be through "GDP bonds" - bonds carrying an interest rate linked to economic growth.

Greece also wants to see a reduction in the primary surplus target - the surplus the government must generate (excluding interest payments on debt) - from 3% to 1.49% of GDP.

In Greece last week, two opinion polls indicated that 79% of Greeks supported the government's policies, and 74% believed its negotiating strategy would succeed.


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