Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Saturday negotiations with its creditors are at “a very crucial stage” and that a very thin line separates eventual success from an impasse.
A measure of the growing impatience of Greece’s eurozone partners with what they see as Greece’s inability to implement changes in the economy was given in an interview by Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker to German news magazine Der Spiegel.
The possibility of bankruptcy in March should give the Greeks “muscles where they now still have some symptoms of paralysis,” he was quoted as telling the magazine in an interview released Saturday.
Should Greece fail to implement the necessary reforms, then it may not expect “solidarity efforts from the others,” Juncker added.
In Athens, Venizelos told reporters negotiations for the bailout deal Greece needs to avoid defaulting on its debts must be completed by late Sunday, but that a breakthrough is being held up by demands from debt inspectors for more austerity measures.
Earlier, he had joined a two-hour conference call with other eurozone finance ministers, and resumed talks with debt inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — known as the “troika” — after a 12-hour meeting with them on Friday.
Venizelos also met with Greece’s ministers of health, labor, defense, interior and public sector reform to discuss demands for wage cuts in the private sector and faster staff cuts, including dismissals, in Greece’s large public sector.
“The euro group conference call was very difficult. There is great anxiety and great pressure from (the troika) as well as individual eurozone member states, each of which has its own priorities,” Venizelos told reporters, without providing details or naming any of the countries.
“There is a very small margin separating a successful end in (negotiations) from an impasse that could be due to a misunderstanding,” he said. “We stand at the razor’s edge.”
He said the negotiations must be completed by Sunday night, without saying why.