"Bailout program is absurd" - Greece rejected Eurozone's demands
Crunch talks between Greece and its eurozone partners came to a halt on Monday after Athens rejected demands that it continue its current massive debt bailout unchanged as "absurd".
"The meeting is over," a European source told the reporters, moments after a government source in Athens said Greece had rejected a demand by eurozone ministers that the debt-wracked country stick to its bailout program.
Greece faced a wall of opposition at the crucial talks with eurozone finance ministers dead set against scrapping the country's massive bailout program as a bitter stand-off deepened.
The hard-left government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is trying to win a radical overhaul to the terms of its 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) bailout which it says has damaged the Greek economy after years of imposed austerity.
The source said Athens had been told to respect the existing conditions of the bailout, a red line that the Tsipras government refuses to cross.
"The insistence of certain people for the new Greek government to enforce the bailout is absurd and unacceptable... under these circumstances there can be no deal today," the source said.
Eurozone finance ministers were meeting in Brussels hoping to reach a compromise before Greece's bailout expires on 28 February.
"(Implementing) the bailout program was off the table at the summit. Those who bring this back are wasting their time," the Greek government source said.
Similar discussions to find a common ground over the Greek debt crisis hit a deadlock last week.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Monday described Athens' behavior as irresponsible, saying that he's very skeptical of Greece's ability to reach a new debt deal with its euro zone partners.
“From what I’ve heard about the technical discussions at the weekend, I’m very skeptical,” said Schaeuble, whose country is the biggest contributor to Greece’s 240 billion-euro ($274 billion) twin bailouts and the chief advocate of economic reforms in return for aid. “But we’ll get a report today and then we’ll see,” he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
Greek stocks and bonds dropped as Schaeuble’s comments were echoed by colleagues from Malta to France.
Failure to strike a deal by 28 February, when the current rescue expires, risks leaving Greece adrift without funds to keep banks afloat and to pay salaries, triggering a chain reaction that could put the country’s euro membership in jeopardy.
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