AMSTERDAM, March 17 (Reuters) - Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem repeated on Tuesday that Greece is running out of cash and must work on economic reforms if it hopes to receive further assistance, prompting Athens to respond that it would not let itself be blackmailed.
Greek representatives started talks with international creditors in Brussels last week in an attempt to agree on a set of reforms and unlock remaining bailout aid.
Asked whether he thought Greece was stalling for time, Dijsselbloem, the Dutchman who chairs the group of euro zone finance ministers, said no.
”The pressure on Greece is growing,“ he said in an interview with Dutch television broadcaster RTL Nieuws. ”The amount of cash, money - at least this is what I‘m told - is declining by the day.
“And again, they’ll only get an emergency loan if there are really steps being taken, if there’s progress in the reforms that are needed in Greece.”
Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said in a statement: ”It would be useful for everyone for Mr Dijsselbloem to respect his institutional role in the Eurozone.
“We don’t easily understand the reasons which motivate him to make statements which do not fit with the role with which he has been trusted. Everything else is fantasy. We believe it is unnecessary to remind him that Greece cannot be blackmailed,”
In a separate interview, Dijsselbloem repeated he does not believe Greece is on track to exit membership of the euro -- a so-called ”Grexit“.”
Speaking with BNR radio, he said European institutions have thought through what could happen if Greece or another country enters a phase of acute financial stress.
“Those don’t at all have to immediately be exit scenarios”, he said, pointing to Cyprus as an example.
“The banks were closed a while, and capital controls - cash flows in the country and out of the country were tied to all manner of conditions,” he said.
So for Greece “there are various scenarios thinkable, but my political exertion is to prevent things from getting that far.” (Reporting by Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Costas Pitas in Athens; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)