Eurozone sets Sunday deadline for Greece bailout deal

European leaders give last chance to leftist Syriza government to thrash out a deal to end crisis and prevent euro exit.

The Greek prime minister has said that Athens was ready to make “efforts” to reach a “viable” deal to end the crisis, as eurozone leaders set a Sunday deadline to thrash out a final bailout agreement.

European leaders gave Alexis Tsipras a last-minute chance on Tuesday after he failed to present them with a detailed plan in an emergency summit in Brussels.

The eurozone summit was called after Greek voters rejected international creditors’ bailout offer in a weekend referendum. The ruling leftist Syriza party lead by Tsipras campaigned against its lenders’ offer that called for more austerity in exchange for rescue loans.

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“The Greek side will continue the effort, having the strong weapon of the Greek people’s verdict … the vast majority’s will for a viable agreement to end the discussion [about a Grexit] and offer the prospect of finally exiting the crisis,” Tsipras told reporters after the emergency summit of eurozone leaders.

Tsipras addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday saying the government will continue with reform efforts.

“We have to put on the table an agenda for growth. We must be able to look reality in the face and find solutions.

“I am confident that in the next two or three days we will be able to meet
the obligations in the best interests of Greece and also the eurozone,” Tsipras said.

“This is a European problem which requires a European solution… let us not allow it to become a divided Europe”.

In the first step of its renewed bid for funding, Greece’s government must submit detailed reform plans by Thursday, EU President Donald Tusk said.

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All 28 European Union leaders will then examine the plans on Sunday in a make-or-break summit that will either save Greece’s struggling economy or could lead to its exit from euro.

“Tonight I have to say loud and clear – the final deadline ends this week,” Tusk told a news conference.

“Inability to find an agreement may lead to bankruptcy of Greece and insolvency of its banking system,” he added.

Grexit scenario

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned “we have a Grexit scenario prepared in detail” if Greece failed to reach a deal, although he insisted he wanted Athens to stay in the euro club.

A Greek government source also said that a new pitch would be made over the next 48 hours, and that Athens has made improvements to the proposals for a bailout deal made to its creditors last week.

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Greece last week defaulted on a $1.8bn repayment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and on July 28, it faces a huge payment of $3.8bn to Europe Union institutions.

Tsipras has insisted that instead of a Greek exit, Greece’s creditors will now finally have to talk about restructuring the country’s massive 240 billion euro ($267bn) debt to them.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meanwhile warned Greece would need a debt programme lasting “several years” and insisted writing off any of Greece’s debt mountain was out of the question.

The situation remained dire in Greece, where liquidity-starved banks are unable to open until Thursday at the earliest.

Athenians awoke yet again on Tuesday to the bleak reality of closed banks and more lines at cash machines for their daily withdrawal limit of 60 euros ($67), amid dread the ATMs could soon be running empty.

Meanwhile the European Central Bank, which has been keeping Greek lenders afloat, has said it will maintain emergency funding to Greek banks until Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies