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Greece and Eurozone partners still at loggerheads ahead of today’s crucial meeting of Eurozone finance ministers

Ahead of a confidence vote in the Greek parliament on his government’s new anti-austerity policies, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that Greece “cannot return to an age of bailouts and suppression.” The government won the confidence vote by 162 to 137. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis also struck a strong tone saying, “If you’re not willing to even consider a clash, you’re not negotiating,” adding that 30% of the bailout programme is “toxic.”

There were mixed reports yesterday afternoon suggesting the European Commission was considering a six-month extension programme for Greece. However, this was dismissed by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble who said, “The public statements are more confusing than helpful…We are not negotiating a new programme,” adding that if Greece did not want to stick to its commitments “then that’s it.” EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici added, “There is no specific plan on the table…We should discuss within the context of a common framework which exists already, which is that of the existing programme.” Spanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos has said that today’s Eurogroup meeting “is an important one, but not one where decisions will be made.”

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin told Le Monde, “Greece’s situation is not a threat to the Eurozone.” However, he warned, “Someone who were to act as if [European] rules didn’t exist would put himself is a situation of impasse.”

A new INSA poll for German magazine Focus shows that 48% of Germans are in favour of Greece leaving the euro, 29% are against and 23% are undecided. A new Alco poll for Greek newspaper To Pontiki shows that 75% of Greeks agree with the Greek government’s negotiating stance. Open Europe’s Vincenzo Scarpetta is quoted by Spanish news agency EFE as saying, “Negotiations [between Greece and its creditors] will be tougher and more complicated than in 2012. Both sides are less willing to give in, but there’s still margin to reach some sort of agreement.”

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