Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s radical prime minister, met with his eurozone creditors in Brussels on Wednesday evening over the terms of his country remaining in the single currency, as the five-year crisis centred on debt and democracy moved towards a climax.
Tsipras joined the president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for dinner and a battle of wills over conflicting ideas for resolving Greece’s financial catastrophe, although many believe the best they are likely to agree is a fix to buy more time.
Although the meeting went well, it ended without a deal. However, there were positive expressions from participants afterwards and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, said that there was more to come.
“We will continue our talks in a few days,” Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, told reporters after emerging in the early hours of Thursday morning from the meeting.
Tsipras had gone to argue for acceptance of a 47-page reform programme he handed his creditors this week. Juncker was charged with presenting him with a quite different blueprint, drafted following an emergency summit of national and international leaders in Berlin on Monday.
Tsipras maintained after the meeting that the Greek proposal was the only realistic option. He said that Athens still rejected some of the creditors’ proposals but indicated that a deal was close on some of the issues and that Athens would make a payment due to the IMF on Friday.
The European commission said: “It was a good constructive meeting. Progress was made in understanding each other’s positions on the basis of various proposals. It was agreed they will meet again. Intense work will continue.”
Before the meeting, Tsipras had been confident that Europe’s leadership would “see reason”. “It is more essential than ever for the institutions and the political leadership of Europe to accede to the realism with which the [Greek] government has been moving for the past three months. We have to avoid division,” he said.