Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tsipras presses for May debt deal, threatens referendum

April 28, 2015

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday he was confident of an outline deal with international creditors within two weeks, after shaking up his negotiating team and sidelining his finance minister who has infuriated euro zone partners.

Tsipras threatened to call a referendum if lenders insist on demands deemed unacceptable by his leftist government, elected to scrap austerity. But the head of euro zone finance ministers said Greece needed loans urgently and did not have time for such a vote, which would be a costly and destabilising distraction.

Athens is weeks away from running out of cash, and talks with EU and IMF lenders on more aid have been deadlocked over their demands for Greece to implement reforms, including pension cuts and labour market liberalisation.

In his first major television interview since being elected in January, Tsipras said he expected a deal with creditors by May 9, three days before a debt payment to the IMF of about 750 million euros (537 million pounds) falls due. He ruled out a default but stressed the priority was to pay wages and pensions.


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