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Greece

Tsipras says Greece not intransigent, urges EU leaders to reach deal

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras said he was against a two-speed eurozone where the core would impose strict austerity rules via a "super euro zone finance minister"

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Greece should not be blamed for not yet reaching a deal with its creditors and called on fellow European leaders to bypass technical talks and come to a political solution.

Athens and its creditors were continuing talks on a cash-for-reforms deal but were expected to miss a self-imposed Sunday deadline for reaching an agreement to unlock aid, sources close to the talks said.

“If we have not reached an agreement with our partners, it’s not because of our intransigence or incomprehensible positions from the Greek side,” Tsipras said in a column published on French daily Le Monde’s website on Sunday.

“It is rather because of the obsession of some institutional representatives who insist on unreasonable solutions and are being indifferent to the democratic result of recent Greek elections,” he wrote, adding European and international institutions were ready to be flexible.

He said the Greek government had been ready to make compromises, for instance on privatisations, despite its party’s ideological opposition to them.

Tsipras also responded to criticism that Greece was holding up a deal with the lenders because it resisted pension reforms and insisted on restoring collective bargaining.

He said Greece has committed to integrating pension funds and cutting down on early retirement but opposed any further cuts in pensions which have been slashed by up to 48 percent in the last five years.

“Currently, 44.5 percent of pensioners receive a pension under the fixed threshold of relative poverty while approximately 23.1 percent of pensioners, according to data from Eurostat, live in danger of poverty and social exclusion,” he said.

“These numbers…cannot be tolerated – not simply in Greece but in any civilized country.”

Tsipras said he was against a two-speed eurozone where the core would impose strict austerity rules via a “super euro zone finance minister” who would have the power to block any national budget not in line with extreme neo-liberal doctrines.

He is expected to have a teleconference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Francois Hollande later on Sunday – his second in four days – in a bid to help close the deal, a Greek government official said.

Tsipras has long sought a political push to end negotiations and get aid flowing to his cash-strapped country, though the lenders have insisted that Greece must wrap up talks at the technical level with adequate concessions on reforms so that its budget and debt numbers add up.

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