Greece formally asked its European creditors on Thursday for a six-month extension of the debt-ridden country’s bailout package, according to a euro zone official.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads the Eurogroup of finance ministers, said on his Twitter account he “received [the] Greek request for [a] six months extension,” but provided no further details.
Speaking anonymously, EU officials later said that euro zone finance ministers would meet Friday to discuss the extension request.
Reacting to Greece’s request, Germany said it is not a “substantial” proposal for a solution.
A spokesman for German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble elaborated that “in truth it aims at bridge financing, without meeting the requirements of the program. The letter does not meet the criteria agreed upon in the Eurogroup on Monday.”
Germany, the main European creditor, has repeatedly said that any extension of loans was “inextricably” linked to the reforms agreed to by the previous Greek government. In general, Germany has firmly held the position that aid for struggling countries must come with strings attached.
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said he is optimistic Greece would receive the extension and avoid possible bankruptcy.
US treasury secretary Jacob Lew spoke to Varoufakis by telephone Wednesday, urging him to work for a compromise. The treasury department said Lew told his Greek colleague that “failure to reach an agreement would lead to immediate hardship in Greece and that the uncertainty is not good for Europe.”
Greece has until the end of the month to pay back its European lenders or negotiate a new deal. Failure could mean default and exit from the euro zone.
Greece’s new leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras campaigned on promises of renegotiating the $270 billion bailout package. He said the terms agreed to by the former centre-right government have made life difficult for many Greeks.