BRUSSELS, (Reuters) – Greece failed again to clinch a deal with its international creditors yesterday, setting up a last-ditch effort on Saturday to either avert a default next week or start preparing to protect the euro zone from financial market turmoil.
Euro zone finance ministers ended their third meeting in a week without agreement after the three creditor institutions put a final cash-for-reform proposal on the table in a showdown with Athens’s leftist government.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is Greece’s biggest creditor, said Greek positions on some issues seemed even to have gone into reverse.
“The door is still open for the Greek side to come with new proposals or accept what is on the table,” Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters before briefing European Union leaders, meeting at a summit next door, on the impasse.
Greece thrust its way onto the agenda of a 28-nation EU summit that had been due to focus on migration, the long-term future of the euro zone and launching a renegotiation of Britain’s membership terms.
The leaders spent two hours on an unscheduled discussion of the Greek crisis, appealing to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to accept the proposals on the table and spare the Greek people worse suffering, EU officials said.
Tsipras urged fellow leaders to take responsibility and not leave Greece’s fate in the hands of the International Monetary Fund, but they declined to intervene, saying the talks must be run by finance ministers, the officials said.
“The climate is that either by Saturday Greece accepts or on Saturday there will be a discussion about Plan B,” a euro zone official at the summit said, referring to measures that would be needed in the case of a default to prevent a Greek bank collapse and limit any market contagion to other euro area countries.