BUSINESS

The Latest: Finland's Stubb lauds 'good leap forward' in Greek bailout talks

07/12/2015 05:07 EDT | Updated 07/11/2016 05:59 EDT
BRUSSELS - The latest from Greece's financial crisis (all times local):

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4:40 p.m.

One of Greece's most outspoken critics, Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb says bailout discussions with the country have taken "a good leap forward."

Following two days of talks between the Greek finance minister and his peers in the 19-country eurozone, Stubb says a package of proposals have been sent to leaders for discussion at their emergency summit meeting in Brussels.

Stubb says they involve three key elements, including the Greek parliament's passing of a series of unspecified laws by Wednesday.

If these conditions are met, then talks with Europe's bailout fund can proceed, said Stubb.

Stubb refused to comment on whether Greece would get some immediate financing to help its banks reopen. "One day at a time, one step at a time," he said.

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4:20 p.m.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone's top official, says discussions over a Greek bailout request have come a long way but that some thorny issues remain which leaders will address later at a special summit.

Following the conclusion of what turned out to be a two-day meeting of the 19 finance ministers of the eurozone, Dijsselbloem said "we've come a long way" but that "some big issues still remain."

Dijsselbloem, in his capacity as eurogroup president will brief eurozone leaders about the progress so far.

"We're now going to inform the leaders and they're going to discuss and hopefully decide on those last issues," he said, without specifying what those issues were.

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4:10 p.m.

A Greek official says Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has spoken by phone with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and told him that for there to be a deal, all sides must want one.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Tsipras told Lew that Greece has proven that it does want to strike a deal but that the viability of any agreement must acknowledge what the Greek people has gone through in the last five years.

The Greek economy has shrunk by around a quarter over the past few years while unemployment and poverty rates have risen alarmingly.

---By Elena Becatoros in Athens.

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3:45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insists that there won't be a Greek deal later Sunday "at any price."

Arriving for an emergency summit of eurozone's leaders in Brussels, Merkel says "the most important currency has been lost: that is trust and reliability."

Merkel says the talks later will be "tough," adding that in any deal reached "the advantages outweigh the disadvantages both for the future of Greece and the eurozone as a whole and the principles of our co-operation."

Germany has taken a tough line on Greece over the past few weeks and has questioned whether the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will deliver the reforms it has promised in exchange for a financial rescue package.

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3:35 p.m.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Union's executive branch, says he will "fight until the very last millisecond" for a deal that keeps Greece in the euro.

Arriving for an emergency meeting of the leaders of the 19-country eurozone in Brussels, the European Commission president gave few grounds for optimism that a breakthrough over the Greek crisis was imminent.

Juncker's caution was echoed in comments from other eurozone leaders including French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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3:25 p.m.

French President Francois Hollande said he's going to do everything that he can to keep Greece in the euro.

Arriving for an emergency summit of eurozone leaders in Brussels, Hollande said "France is going to do everything to reach an agreement tonight."

He said it wasn't just Greece's future that's at stake.

"It is Europe that is at stake," he said.

Hollande also sought to douse any talk that a temporary Greek exit from the eurozone is possible. Greece is either in or out, he said.

The latter would be a retreat for Europe, said Hollande.

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3:05 p.m.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he's ready for a compromise deal with European creditors and that an agreement later Sunday is possible if "all parties want it."

Arriving for an emergency meeting of the 19 leaders of the eurozone in Brussels, Tsipras said Europeans want to see Europe "united and not divided."

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1:10 p.m.

A European official says Greece's European creditors are seeking a deal that would relieve the pressure on the Greek banks that face an acute liquidity crunch as soon as Monday.

The official, who is close to the negotiations, said leaders from the 19-country eurozone are focused on "plan A" that involves Greece living up to its obligations and staying in the euro.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said eurozone leaders hope to issue a statement that would pave the way for the formal for the start of Greek bailout negotiations. The leaders are due to meet later.

That, the official added, would give the "green light" to the European Central Bank to turn up the emergency liquidity assistance it provides to Greek banks.

--- By Menelaos Hadjicostis in Brussels.

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12:40 p.m

The head of France's governing Socialist Party is appealing to other left-leaning parties in Europe to push for a deal to save Greece's economy.

French Socialist leader Jean-Christophe Cambadelis in particular urged Germany's Social Democrats, the junior partners in Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government, to push toward a compromise deal.

Cambadelis, who leads the management of President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party, said in a statement that Europeans "do not understand the German over-reaction."

France has been the staunchest ally of Greece's radical left government in recent months. It's urging a deal on the grounds that it's crucial for Greece but also for overall European unity and the Franco-German relationship that underpins it.

Germany, by contrast, has taken a far tougher stance and is urging strict conditions on any Greek bailout deal that may emerge.

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12:00 p.m.

If the Greek legislators thought they had done enough by approving the tough austerity proposals of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, they had better think again.

Pierre Moscovici, the European Union's top economy official says the Greek government has to "do more — in the short- and the mid-term."

The Greek government is coming under pressure to enact legislation swiftly, possibly within the next few days, on economic reforms to assuage concerns of creditors that it can't be trusted to deliver what it says in return for billions of euros of bailout cash.

"The deal needs to be ambitious at an economic level and realistic at a political level," Moscovici said.

The meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers will be followed one of the leaders.

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11:50 a.m.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila denied his government had been on the verge of collapse over disagreements on a Greek bailout among coalition members.

On Saturday, when finance ministers from across the 19-country eurozone, there were reports coming out of Finland that the government was being pressured by the Finns Party which has previously advocated a Greek exit from the euro.

"Absolutely not, no way. You're living in a world of rumours," Sipila told reporters in Helsinki on Sunday. "The government took a totally united stand."

Finland has refused to reveal its position on Greece publicly for tactical reasons.

The head of the Finns Party, Foreign Minister Timo Soini, refused to comment on the Greek question saying that the pledge of secrecy made by government members will stand.

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11:30 a.m.

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Greece's European creditors just don't trust the Greek government enough to do what it says it will do on the economic reform front.

As a result, he said a deal that would secure Greece's future in the euro won't be clinched at Sunday's meetings in Brussels, first of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers and then of its leaders.

"We continue to work to establish the conditions to start negotiations, which is the real target," Padoan said as he arrived for talks. "It is not about closing a deal."

"Let's face it, the main obstacle to moving forward is lack of trust," Padoan added.

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11:20 a.m.

Greece's banks, according to many accounts, have barely enough cash in their vaults to see the country through the week.

Greece's banks have been shuttered for the best part of two weeks and daily withdrawals from ATMs have been limited to a paltry 60 euros ($67). The economy is in a freefall and the country faces big debt repayments in coming weeks.

Greece has already defaulted on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) payment to the International Monetary Fund last month. It has another 4.2 billion-euro payment on July 20 due to the European Central Bank.

Greece has asked Europe's bailout fund for a 53.5 billion-euro 3-year financial package but many EU officials believe that won't be enough.

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10:55 a.m.

The finance minister of Cyprus, a traditional ally of Greece, says a way can be found to secure Greece's place in the euro.

However, Harris Georgiades warned that choices based on "populism, slogans and extremes" won't lead to a deal.

Georgiades spoke as he headed into a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers. On Saturday, the so-called eurogroup broke up after more than eight hours of discussions having failed to make a breakthrough over the Greek crisis.

"We have to work less on the basis of emotion and more on the basis of reason and the difficult, but necessary choices that will create prospects, " said Georgiades.

Georgiades said Cyprus stands firmly behind Greece in tough negotiations with its European creditors because it wants to see the country remain in the eurozone.

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10:40 a.m.

Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said he was "still hopeful" for a deal on Greece's financial crisis, but the two sides were "still very, very far away."

He said in a scale of 1-to-10, Greece and its 18 partners in the eurozone were only "somewhere between 3 and 4" when it came to any agreement.

Stubb denied that Finland was blocking an agreement, saying all countries were trying to find an exit from a "very difficult situation."

Greece has asked Europe's bailout fund for a 53.5 billion-euro ($59.5 billion) 3-year financial package but many EU officials believe that won't be enough.

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10:25 a.m.

European Union President Donald Tusk has decided to cancel a summit of the bloc's 28 leaders and instead centre only on a summit of the 19 eurozone leaders to find a solution on Greece's bailout crisis.

In an early morning tweet, Tusk said the eurozone summit would start in mid- afternoon "and last until we conclude talks" on Greece.

A full day of talks Saturday among the 19 finance ministers hardly brought the sides closer together, with ministers still distrustful over Greece's ability to enact financial reforms

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9:45 a.m.

For the Greek bailout talks to be successful, European officials say it's all about trust.

Greece will have another, possibly its last, chance Sunday to convince skeptical European creditors it can be trusted to enact wide-ranging economic reforms that would safeguard its future in the common euro currency used by 19 European nations.

The talks in Brussels resume at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT), just a few hours before the European Union's 28 leaders descend for a summit.

The two sides negotiated for eight hours Saturday where Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone's top official, says "the issue of credibility and trust was discussed."

Greece has asked Europe's bailout fund for a 53.5 billion-euro ($59.5 billion) 3-year financial package but many EU officials believe that won't be enough.