Greece offers bailout ‘improvements,’ angers European leaders

Debt-wracked Greece said Tuesday that it had made “improvements” in its financial plan in hopes of collecting more bailout money, but it angered European leaders when its leaders showed up at a summit in Brussels without a written proposal.

An Athens official said the plan calls for reforms, investment and debt settlement. The top finance chief in Europe’s 19-nation euro currency bloc, Jeroen Dijsselbloem of the Netherlands, said he expected Greece to formally ask for a new bailout as early as Wednesday.

But European heads of state voiced their displeasure that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras walked into the summit without a new plan to solve his country’s financial crisis, a years-long drama that now has shut Greek banks for a week and could force the country out of the eurozone.

“You know, there was a promise for today,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. “Then, they’re promising for tomorrow. For the Greek government, it’s every time ‘manana.’ ”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “I’m extremely somber about this summit. I’m also somber about the question of whether Greece really wants to come up with proposals, with a solution.”

In Washington, the White House said President Barack Obama talked with Tsipras by phone Tuesday. The United States has said it wants an early solution to Greece’s debt crisis that keeps Athens in the European currency area.

Crucial moment

Greece is facing a critical moment. After defaulting on a debt payment to the IMF last week, Athens faces another key deadline, a $3.8 billion payment due July 20 to the European Central Bank.

Greece has been trying to persuade its 18 neighbors in the eurozone to cut Athens’ massive debt and hand it more bailout loans to keep the country from running out of cash and possibly becoming the first country to exit the eurozone in its 16-year history.