June 18, 2015 / 7:48 PM / 4 years ago

Greece's Varoufakis says euro zone dangerously close to 'accident'

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Thursday the euro zone was dangerously close to accepting an “accident”, criticising other ministers who he said did not want to discuss his proposal to set up an automatic brake on the country’s public deficit.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis addresses a news conference after a Euro zone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg, June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

It was still possible to reach a cash-for-reforms deal though time was running short, he said.

After euro zone finance ministers and Greece failed yet again to reach a deal at a meeting in Luxembourg, Varoufakis said: “We are dangerously close to a state of mind that accepts an accident. And I urged my colleagues not to fall prey to this state of mind.”

He said his fellow finance ministers had not wanted to discuss his “radical proposal” for an independent fiscal council monitoring budget execution, with a deficit brake.

That was Greece’s “gesture of goodwill to our partners,” to show it was keen to reform.

Asked what the worst-case scenario would be for Greece, he told a news conference: “When Europe’s future is at a critical juncture, we have a duty to work towards a resolution. In this context I don’t want to contemplate catastrophes.”

He did not want to consider the possibility that Greece could leave the euro zone, and all sides had to take the responsibility to strike a deal.

He repeated a Greek proposal that the euro zone should lend it money to buy back 27 billion euros ($30.7 billion) of its bonds from the European Central Bank, saying that would provide a solution to the whole crisis.

Varoufakis denied media reports that Greek banks, which have been suffering large daily deposit outflows, might not be able to open on Monday.

Greek savers have withdrawn about 2 billion euros from banks over the past three days, with outflows accelerating rapidly since talks between the government and its creditors collapsed at the weekend, three banking sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Asked if he was worried there could be even larger outflows now, Varoufakis said: “I do trust that the Greek people are calm ... so the answer to your question must be no.”

Additional reporting by Marine Hass; editing by John Stonestreet

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