November 21, 2012 - 10:42 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Eurozone finance ministers failed at an emergency meeting to strike a deal to unblock bailout funds needed to keep Greece from bankruptcy and said they would try again next week, EUbusiness.com reports.
The Eurogroup ministers said in a statement at the end of talks that ended in the small hours that no deal had been reached and they would meet again next week "for further technical work on some elements of the package".
The ministers went into the negotiations Tuesday, Nov 20, expressing confidence that a deal would be reached to unblock 31.2 billion euros ($40 billion) in aid to Greece and resolve a rift with the IMF over how to get the debt-stricken state's economy back on track.
But the talks ended nearly 12 hours later with a statement saying only that they "made progress in identifying a consistent package of credible initiatives aimed at making a further substantial contribution to the sustainability of Greek government debt".
"It was progress but we have to do a little bit more," International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde told reporters as she left the meeting.
A major bone of contention was whether to give Greece, which faces a sixth year in recession, an extra two years until 2022 to arrive at a point where it can raise its own funds.
Jean-Claude Juncker, who presides the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the 17 countries that use the single currency, had called for that option but Lagarde very publicly disagreed in the run-up to the negotiations in Brussels.
"I am a little bit disappointed," said Juncker after the talks, but he said that he believed "a deal will be possible on Monday" and repeated that he was "impressed" with the reforms Greece had carried out to meet its bail-out terms.
"Greece has delivered. Now it's up to us to deliver," said Juncker.
The IMF, which along with the European Central Bank (ECB) and the EU form the troika overseeing the Greek bail-out, has argued that if Greek debt is to be sustainable in the long run, it must be reduced to 120 percent of GDP by 2020.
Greece has been waiting since June for an instalment of 31.2 billion euros ($40 billion) in aid, part of a 130-billion-euro financial assistance package initially granted early this year.
By the end of the year, Athens is also due to receive two more aid payments, worth 5.0 and 8.3 billion euros, in exchange for which it has pledged to implement a series of unpopular austerity budget measures.