Talks between Eurozone finance ministers and Greek officials abruptly broke down on February 16 after Greece was offered a deal that it said was “unacceptable”.
Both sides ended debt-restructuring negotiations in Brussels, creating pessimism that a deal will be reached before a February 28 deadline.
A draft agreement offered by the eurozone proposed that Greece accept a six-month extension of its bailout under existing bailout conditions.
The proposal also insists that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remain involved with fincancial assistance to Athens, and that the new Greek government uphold reform commitments in “tax policy, privitization, labour market reforms, financial sector and pensions,” as imposed by its eurozone creditors.
One Greek official called the proposal “absurd and unacceptable”, adding that “there can be no agreement today”.
Nonetheless, after the talks, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis said he was ready to do "whatever it takes" to reach a bailout agreement over the next two days.
"I have no doubt that there is going to be a agreement in the end that will be very therapeutic for Greece," he said.
The new government in Greece, led by the left-wing Syriza party, was elected on January 25 on a platform rejecting austerity measures. These measures have been imposed on the country by the "troika" of the IMF, European Union and European Central bank.
The deal on the table would make Syriza turn its back on its campaign promises.
Varoufakis wrote in an op-ed for the February 16 New York Times that Greece will not be “treated as a debt colony”.
“The principle of the greatest austerity for the most depressed economy would be quaint if it did not cause so much unnecessary suffering,” he added.
While the eurozone is pushing Greece to take the extension to provide more time for a new deal, Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chaired the meeting between the two sides, said that even with a renegotiation, it probably wouldn’t look much different.
"Would a new program look very different? I don't think so,” said Dijsselbloem. “The rules and regulations talk about strict conditionalities. It would still be about fiscal sustainability."
[Reposted from TeleSUR English. See details of a national speaking tour of Green Left correspondent Dick Nichols, an eyewitness to SYRIZA's historic win, taking place in February and March.]