BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday she was willing to do all she could to keep Greece in the euro zone but insisted the onus remained on Athens and its creditors to break a deadlock and reach a deal.
Lamenting a lack of progress in the negotiations for an aid-for-reforms deal, Merkel put the focus squarely on Athens and its international creditors, the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece has been trying to bypass its creditors by urging Merkel and other leaders to strike a “political deal” to unlock aid.
But Merkel did not waver, emboldened by unflinching support for her firm line both from her conservative party and her Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partners.
“Unfortunately, there is little new to report,” she told a news conference after meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. “I’m concentrating all my energy on helping the three institutions and Greece to find a solution.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused the creditors on Tuesday of trying to “humiliate” his nation, which is set to default on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30, possibly driving it toward the euro zone exit, unless it receives fresh funds.
In Berlin, the leader of Merkel’s conservative bloc in parliament said he expected Tsipras’ leftist government to cave in to clinch a deal before the end of this month.
“I am quite relaxed,” said Volker Kauder. “I have the impression that the closer the decision day comes, the (more the) Greeks think that the government (in Athens) also has a big responsibility toward the Greek people.”
The SPD, who have traditionally a taken a slightly softer line with Greece, sounded at least as uncompromising.
“I don’t see any willingness on the part of Greece to have a successful conclusion to the talks with creditors,” Thomas Oppermann, a senior figure in the SPD told reporters.
“The way that Greece is playing this there won’t be any resolution (on Thursday),” he added, referring to a crucial meeting of euro zone finance ministers.
Even if Greece were to clinch a deal in the coming days, it would have to be approved by euro zone finance ministers, the Greek parliament and several European parliaments, including the Bundestag.
Merkel said her focus was the finance ministers’ meeting.
“Something can only be decided there if there is a joint proposal with Greece that will fulfill the conditions,” she said. “I have always said I want to do everything possible to keep Greece in the euro zone. I remain dedicated to that.”
Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum and Paul Carrel; Editing by Ruth Pitchford