Greek minister accuses creditors of blackmail

Greek ministers are speculating creditors are conspiring against Athens as euro zone ministers say they will work with creditor proposal not the Greek one, but many still hopeful of a deal.

ATHENS, GREECE (JUNE 25, 2015)(REUTERS) – Greek lawmakers had harsh words for the country’s lenders on Thursday after Athens was given an ultimatum to come up with a credible reform plan.

International creditors told leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that if this didn’t happen, they would send their own version to Eurogroup ministers.

In Athens, Deputy Defence Minister, Costas Isychos, said this was tantamount to blackmail.

“By now, we are all aware of this game of blackmail. This is the negotiating tactic of colonialists and when we are through with these negotiations, we want that people feel proud, standing on their feet,” he said.

However Health Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis said no matter what, the government did not want to be the ones to take Greece out of Europe.

“I believe that in the end, logic will prevail for all parties and they will find common ground because no one wants to take the responsibility of dismantling the euro zone,” he said.

Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis said they had not yet reached the end of the line in negotiations in Brussels.

“We are doing the best we can. We know what you know, we are doing our best,” he said.

Ministers accuse the lenders of introducing last-minute changes to estimates of projected tax revenues or pension cuts, making it impossible to come up with an acceptable offer.

They also say that demands for wholesale reform of the pension system went well beyond anything attempted by previous conservative-led governments.

Joining the prime minister in Brussels are three leading opposition politicians: former centre-right prime minister Antonis Samaras, Fofi Gennimata, the leader of his former coalition partner PASOK and Stavros Theodorakis, leader of the pro-European To Potami party.

In Athens, New Democracy lawmaker Konstantinos Tasoulas said all parties should work towards staying inside the euro zone.

“The situation is critical, let us hope that the deadlock will break and there will be an agreement because it is important that Greece stays in Europe,” he said.

The heads of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank set Tsipras the deadline to come up with a new, workable proposal of reforms to unlock new funding and avert a debt default next Tuesday.

Tsipras left European Commission headquarters smiling and flashing a thumbs-up sign after three hours of meetings on Thursday but made no comment.

Many Greeks say lenders want to unseat the leftist government and force elections that would bring in a more lender-friendly administration.

“The institutions are despicable. I am very disappointed because they are trying to destroy a country like Greece because it elected a leftist government,” said Athens resident Xanthi Kozanita.

For many, the never-ending negotiations are unsettling.

“We don’t know what will happen. Will there be a breakaway (from the EU) or not? Are we returning to the drachma or not? I think that everyone is worried about this,” said Athens resident, Panagiotis Kalaitzidis.

Without a cash-for-reform deal in the next 48 hours, the chances of Greece averting a default to the IMF look slim.