Greece and Germany, along with finance ministers from the eurozone, are set to enter a round of last-ditch negotiations on Friday in an attempt to reach a deal on Greek debt that all sides find satisfactory. The meeting comes a day after Germany struck down a proposed loan extension.
The meeting, which was originally set to begin in Brussels at 3:00 p.m. local time (10:00 a.m. EST), was rescheduled to 4:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. EST). A Greek government official told Reuters on Friday that they are close to finalizing a mutually acceptable deal.
“We have covered four fifths of the distance, they also need to consider one fifth,” the official reportedly said, on condition of anonymity, adding that Greece wanted to agree to a deal, but would not be intimidated into accepting a bad one.
"The Greek government has done all it should at every level in an effort to find a mutually beneficial solution," government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Mega TV, Reuters reported.
The meeting comes a day after Berlin rejected a proposed six-month extension to Greece’s loan agreement, saying it was “not a substantial solution,” and signaling a lack of trust in Athens’ ability to meet the conditions of the bailout.
"We are not discussing the continuation of the program," Sakellaridis said. "The Greek government will maintain this stance today, although conditions have matured for a solution to be found at last."
However, both German and Greek officials later said that more meetings may be needed, as the current bailout agreement does not go far enough, The Guardian reported. “I am not expecting a final result, today it all begins,” Yiannis Amanatidis, a Greek lawmaker, said.
An unnamed German spokesman added that the German government remained "unified" on its position on Greece.
Meanwhile, Greek markets opened strong on Friday, with the main ATG index rising 11.8 points as of 4 a.m. EST, signaling optimism on Greece’s part that an agreement could be reached.
As the day wore on, fears of Greece leaving the eurozone, dubbed as 'Grexit,' were raised again. However, global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said that such an outcome would have a limited effect on other economies.
“We believe that the financial burden of a Grexit on the remaining 18 eurozone sovereigns would be moderate and absorbed over decades, and we therefore do not expect that a Grexit, by itself, would have significant rating implications for these sovereigns,” the agency said in a report.