Greece confident of agreement in negotiations with partners

Greece said it was confident of reaching agreement in negotiations with its eurozone partners, but reiterated it would not accept harsh austerity strings in any debt pact, reports

A day before a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting in Brussels to shore up Greece’s dwindling finances and help keep it in the eurozone, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Germany’s Stern magazine that Athens needed time to implement its reform programme and shake off the mismanagement of the past.

“I expect difficult negotiations; nevertheless I am full of confidence,” he said. “I promise you: Greece will then, in six months’ time, be a completely different country.”

 The Eurogroup of finance ministers meets in Brussels today (16 February) to try to find common ground with Tsipras’ new leftist government, elected on a pledge to scrap the austerity strictures of Greece’s international bailouts, on issues such as debt management, financing, privatisation and labour reform.

 If the meeting produces no results, there is a concern that Greece will be headed for a credit crunch that would force it out of the eurozone. Progress, however, could mean further negotiations, perhaps later in the week.