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Finance Ministers descend on Riga for Greek wrestle

Finance Ministers from across the European Union were starting two days of talks in Riga Thursday with the nominal agenda about investment and job creation overshadowed by the real business of whether Greece is about to be kicked out of the Eurozone.

Tight security was in place around the National Library building which is hosting talks, with motorcades ferrying the finance ministers to and from their hotels.

With off- and on-the-record briefings taking place in all available alcoves among dozens of Brussels journalists ferried in for the occasion, there was a sense almost of relief when the first of a series of official press conferences got under way at lunchtime.

Inevitably, Greece dominated the questioning with Eurozone president and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem warning that there are still "wide differences to cover and bridge" between the Greeks and the EU authorities.

"I would like to reiterate again that a comprehensive review is necessary before any disbursements can take place... we are all aware that time is running out," Dijsselbloem said.

"Too much time has been lost in the last two months and it is therefore clear that these discussions need to make significantly more progress."

However, he was followed on stage by Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis who offered a more upbeat assessment of the situation saying the parties were "close" on several issues.

"We should not focus on differences," Varoufakis said, while blasting what he called "the ritualistic humiliation of the Greek population" during previous negotiations.

"Our government is utterly undogmatic. We're interested in finding a process that would lead to the successful conclusion of a mutually beneficial agreement... [but] were not going to make promises we cannot fulfill." 

"An agreement will be difficult but it will happen... we're not going to make promises we cannot fulfill," Varoufakis promised.

Talks continue on Saturday.

 

 

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