Greece's international lenders have failed for the second week in a row to reach an agreement on releasing more bailout money to the debt-ridden Athens government.
Eurozone finance chiefs, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank ended a lengthy meeting in Brussels early Wednesday without agreeing on terms for sending a $40 billion rescue package to Greece. Athens says it needs the money — a segment of its second bailout in two years — to avoid defaulting on its financial obligations.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said his country “has done what it had to” in agreeing to the lenders' demands to impose another round of austerity measures. He said the future of Greece and the stability of the 17-nation eurozone depend on release of the funds.
But the lenders have voiced repeated doubts about Greece's long-term financial condition. A key question is whether Greece should be given another two years — to 2022 — to reach a point where it can regularly raise money on international financial markets.
The IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, said progress was made in reaching a deal on release of the funds to Greece, but that more work needs to be done.
“We made some good work, we're closing the gap, but we're not quite there yet. So it's progress, but we have to do a bit more.”
The head of the eurozone finance chiefs, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, said the lenders would try again Monday to reach agreement.
“We are close to an agreement, but technical verifications have to be undertaken and financial calculations have to be made, and really for technical and obvious reasons at this hour of the day it was not possible to do it in a proper way, so we are interrupting the meeting and we are reconvening on next Monday at noon.”