Greece’s finance ministry dismissed on Sunday (12 April) a report by a German newspaper which said that eurozone officials were shocked at Greece’s failure to outline plans for structural reforms at last week’s talks in Brussels.
The mood between Greece’s newly-elected leftist government and its eurozone partners has been tense during negotiations that will determine whether the cash-strapped country deserves further financial aid by its EU/IMF lenders.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung cited participants at last week’s meeting as saying that they were disappointed by Athens’ lack of movement in its plans, adding that the Greek representative just asked where the money was “like a taxi driver” and insisted his country would soon be bankrupt.
“When the readers of FAS read the minutes of the Euro Working Group meeting, the newspaper will have difficulty justifying its headline and the content of its article,” the finance ministry said. “Such reports undermine the negotiation and Europe.”
Negotiators from Greece and the EU have struggled to make headway over the final payout of 7.2 billion euros as Athens has refused to consider cutting civil servants’ pensions.
Alexis Tsipras’s government, which was elected on an anti-austerity ticket, is reticent about accepting further cuts in public spending.
A meeting of deputy finance ministers – called the Euro Working Group – on Thursday (9 April) gave Athens a six working day deadline to present a revised economic reform plan before eurozone finance ministers meet on April 24 to decide whether to unlock emergency funding to keep Greece afloat.
On Thursday, the Greek government also began examining a draft bill aimed at rehiring around 4,000 civil servants who were retrenched due to austerity reforms.
In addition, the draft bill envisages the hiring of 6,000 people who passed public service examinations.
Technical teams from Greece and its international lenders held a teleconference on Saturday to outline the agenda of talks in the coming days, a Greek finance ministry official said.
Greece’s biggest creditor Germany has said the eurozone would give Athens no extra funds until it has a more detailed list of reforms.
Despite the discord between Athens and the EU over Greece’s proposed reforms, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Thursday he was very confident that a deal could be done by April 24.