European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker warned on Monday that a deal with Greece to unlock vital cash and save Athens from default was “not yet there”, just hours before a crunch debt crisis summit.
“Progress was made over the past days but we are not yet there,” Juncker said as he greeted Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras at EU headquarters in Brussels.
“I don’t know if we will have an agreement today,” he said, dampening expectations for a breakthrough which had buoyed the financial markets earlier.
Tsipras said the talks were about “a substantial and viable solution to allow Greece to come back to growth within the eurozone with social justice.”
The left-wing Greek premier insists that while Athens is ready to compromise, he will not accept fresh aid if it is tied to more of the harsh austerity measures which he says have destroyed the economy.
Juncker is steering Monday’s talks in the hope of avoiding a Greek debt default and a possible chaotic exit from the 19-nation eurozone which could put the whole single currency project at risk.
Juncker and Tsipras were speaking ahead of talks with European Central Bank head Mario Draghi and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, which will be followed by a meeting of eurozone finance ministers and then a eurozone leaders summit.
Greece’s latest proposals are the last chance for Athens to get an agreement which will allow it to avoid defaulting on a 1.6-billion-euro IMF payment due on June 30.