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Greek PM refuses to change course ahead of crucial week of meetings with Eurozone partners

In his first major speech to the Greek parliament yesterday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras promised to end “cruel” austerity and said that it is an “irrevocable decision” to implement the promises his party made in its election campaign. Tsipras reiterated his plan to increase the minimum wage, halt privatisations, reopen closed public broadcaster ERT and tackle tax evasion. He stressed Greece “is not justified in asking for an extension [of the bailout]”, since the programme has failed. Instead, Greece will seek a bridging agreement until a mutual deal can be found on debt relief.

Meanwhile, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis warned in an interview with Italian state TV RAI, “The euro is fragile, it’s like building a castle of cards, if you take out the Greek card the others will collapse.” He added, “Italian officials, I can’t tell you from which big institution, approached me to tell me they backed us but they can’t tell the truth because Italy also risks bankruptcy and they are afraid of the reaction from Germany…Let’s face it, Italy’s debt situation is unsustainable.” Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan replied on Twitter that his Greek counterpart’s remarks were “out of place.”

Eurozone finance ministers will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday, where Greece is expected to present a ‘comprehensive’ plan for finding a mutual agreement on its debt problems. Tsipras will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann today. Faymann said ahead of the meeting, “I am not in favor of handing over money to the Greeks…Who’s supposed to pay for that? I do however support negotiations over technical credit conditions so that the country will have more room to manoeuvre to exit the crisis.” Separately, UK Chancellor George Osborne said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that the UK is “stepping up the contingency planning” around a Grexit.

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