RIGA, Latvia (AP) - Greece's finance minister came under fire Friday from his peers in the 19-country eurozone for failing to come up with a comprehensive list of economic reforms that are needed if the country is to get vital loans to avoid going bankrupt.
RIGA, Latvia (AP) — Greece's finance minister came under fire Friday from his peers in the 19-country eurozone for failing to come up with a comprehensive list of economic reforms that are needed if the country is to get vital loans to avoid going bankrupt.
The eurozone's top official said time is running out for Greece to secure the money, adding that "significantly more progress" was required from Athens. The Greek government has been stuck in talks with its creditors for weeks.
"It was a very critical discussion," said Jeroen Dijsselbloem at the conclusion of the meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers.
Greece had an end-of-April date to agree to more reforms in exchange for 7.2 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in rescue money its European creditors had set aside. Without the money, Greece faces potential bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro, a development that many in global policymaking circles feel could damage the world's economic recovery.
Expectations for a breakthrough were low going into Friday's meeting in the Latvian capital of Riga, and Dijsselbloem admitted the talks with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis were tough.
Dijsselbloem said there were still "wide differences" between the two sides, without specifying where the problems lay. He also ruled out that the creditors might consider a half-way deal that could give Greece part of the 7.2 billion euros.
Greece's Varoufakis conceded there were differences that still need to be bridged but insisted that a deal "will happen and will happen quickly as it's the only option we have."
He also sought to counter claims that talks had not advanced. He said there's been a lot of progress on issues such as privatization, reforming the tax system, the judiciary, the bureaucracy and product markets.
"We look at the last few weeks and what we see is convergence," he said.
Varoufakis said the main sticking points related to pensions and the budget surplus Athens has to post after debt and interest payments are stripped out.
"This is a European family that needs to work out its difference in a collegiate manner," he said.