Leaders of the European Council, France and Germany say the issue of Greek debt must be settled at a crucial meeting of eurozone finance ministers Saturday, after talks Thursday ended without a deal.
European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed Friday that no progress had been made so far at talks in Brussels, where a European Union summit is in progress. He said talks on Greece will resume – and must be concluded – Saturday at the finance ministers’ meeting.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that time is short to arrive at a bailout deal for Greece, and said all efforts must be taken to find a solution Saturday.
French President Francois Hollande called Saturday’s meeting “crucial.” He told Reuters news service that a deal has been “in sight” for several days, but has not been finalized.
Greece must make a nearly $2 billion loan payment to the International Monetary Fund by next Tuesday. To do that, it needs an $8 billion installment of an EU economic bailout.
Although Greece has agreed to reform its pension system and raise certain sales taxes, it is still demanding its debt be restructured by the EU.
The Greek government, headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, says Greeks have suffered enough from spending cuts and tax increases that have lowered their standard of living. Tsipras has expressed confidence that a deal can be established with Greece’s European creditors.
A default could force Greece out of the eurozone and shake up European markets.
(Photo of Tsipras: EC Audiovisual Service)