10 February 2015, 17:57 CET
(THE HAGUE) – Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Tuesday extended an olive branch to Athens a day ahead of a crucial meeting to discuss the stand-off over Greece’s bailout, saying he was “extremely willing” to work for a solution.
Dijsselbloem, who is also the Dutch finance minister, also called on Greece to become financially independent “as soon as possible”, as an emergency meeting loomed in Brussels on Wednesday.
“I am extremely willing, from inside the Eurogroup to work with Greece,” to find a solution, Dijsselbloem told Dutch television news channel RTL Z in a weekly discussion.
“The real work starts on Wednesday when the Eurogroup meets,” he stressed.
Wednesday’s meeting will be the first chance for Greek Finance Minister Yaris Varoufakis to set out to sceptical colleagues the radical new government’s demands for a reduction in Greece’s debt and an end to austerity.
Greece will plead its case for before finance ministers of the 19-country bloc for stop-gap financing with a view to clinching a reform deal that will not exacerbate poverty, to run from September 1.
It is expected to do the same at an EU leaders’ summit on Thursday.
However the European Union sees little chance of any final pact to resolve the debt standoff with the new government, a European Commission spokeswoman said.
But she also played down speculation on a possible Greek exit from the euro, a prospect that has spooked financial markets and governments around the world.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Junker on Monday said he did not expect any new deal to be reached this week and told Greece it “must not assume that the overall mood in Europe has changed so much that the eurozone will unconditionally adopt” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ proposals.
Dijsselbloem called on Greece to become “financially independent as soon as possible.”
“You have to be able to pay interest, debts, to re-finance,” he said.
“If you cannot do that, you remain dependent on the financing of others.”
“Financing goes hand-in-hand with demands and conditions. That’s exactly where the tensions lie” with regards to Greece, Dijsselbloem said.