By Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos
Greece is willing to compromise to reach a deal with its EU/IMF creditors that is acceptable to both sides and is ready to negotiate until the end of June to achieve this, the government said on Monday.
The comments struck a more conciliatory note after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s outright rejection of a proposal from lenders last week, and suggested Athens is willing to make concessions despite anger within the ruling Syriza party over the austerity cuts needed to secure a deal.
Tsipras rejected on Friday as “absurd” international creditors’ terms for a cash-for-reform deal to keep Greece from default, prompting an angry response from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
But on Monday, government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis also left open the possibility of another extension to Greece’s bailout, a programme that Tsipras had promised to scrap when he was elected earlier this year.
Athens badly needs the creditors to release remaining funds from the bailout programme to meet debt repayments by the end of June, but neither side has agreed to each other’s proposals.
“Definitely our proposal is the starting point,” Sakellaridis told a news conference. “The mission of the Greek delegation is to explore the possibility of a solution that satisfies both sides.”
In comments which appeared more conciliatory than Tsipras’s broadside last Friday, he said Athens aimed “to have a lot of political negotiations through all this time until the end of the month so that there is a positive outcome”.
The original extension to the 240 billion euro bailout programme is due to expire at the end of this month. Asked whether a further extension was possible, Sakellaridis said all issues were open and being discussed.
Sakellaridis also played down the possibility of calling a snap election, saying this was not part of the government’s plans.
Greece delayed a 300 million euro payment to the IMF due last week, saying it would repay the money along with other debts due this month to the lender by the end of June.