By Toby Sterling
The chairman of the Eurogroup said on Tuesday Greece is on track to default at midnight and Athens’ stance towards its creditors would have to change before its euro zone partners could consider any additional financial assistance.
Speaking after an emergency conference call between the currency bloc’s finance ministers, Jeroen Dijsselbloem said a last minute request by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to extend Greece’s current bailout programme had fallen on deaf ears.
“We’re beyond that point, it comes too late,” he told Reuters.
He said that as a member of the euro zone and European Union, Greece is welcome to request a new assistance programme, but it would come with strings attached.
“That is quite a procedure to go through,” he said. “In the meantime the situation in Greece, the economy, the Greek banks, has deteriorated, unfortunately even more, so that’s a difficult path to consider.”
Dijsselbloem, who is also the Netherlands’ finance minister, said any new programme might impose tougher conditions than the previous one.
He said that in any case no new programme could be agreed until after Greeks have voted in a referendum on Sunday, and until the government’s attitude changes.
“What can change is the political stance of the Greek government that has led to this unfortunate situation,” he said.