Greek prime minister “full of confidence” ahead of Eurogroup meeting

BERLIN Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:23am EST

Feb 15 (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expects tough talks at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday over how to proceed with its international bailout but remains confident, he told a German magazine in an interview published on Sunday.

“I expect difficult negotiations, nevertheless I am full of confidence,” Tsipras told Germany’s Stern magazine, reiterating calls for international creditors to give Athens more time to implement its reform programme.

“I promise you: Greece will then be in six months’ time a completely different country,” he said.

Greece and its euro zone partners are in arduous negotiations over demands by the new leftist government led by Tsipras for an end to austerity and a renegotiation of debt. The country’s current bailout programme expires at the end of February.

Tsipras struck a conciliatory tone saying he wanted a “Win-Win situation” for all parties. However, the new Greek government’s confrontational style has alienated some politicians in Germany, the euro zone’s paymaster.

Hans Michelbach, a senior conservative lawmaker, said the new government needed to prove that it “was not just about sham-compliance” and warned Greece’s euro zone partners against granting Athens too many concessions.

“There are programmes which have been signed by Greece and to which the new government is tied. International agreements cannot be voted away,” he was quoted as saying in the Handelsblatt newspaper on Saturday. (Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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