ATHENS, GREECE – Greece and its creditors publicly blamed one another for an impasse in bailout talks Wednesday, on the eve of a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting billed as key to their outcome.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras lashed at rescue lenders for demanding pension cuts, and got support from thousands of Greeks who hit the streets in Athens to protest against any further austerity measures.
“If Europe insists in this incomprehensible option — if its political leadership insists — then they must bear the cost of developments that will not be beneficial for anyone in Europe,” he said after meeting in Athens with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann.
Greece needs to get more loans from its creditors before June 30, when its bailout program expires and it is scheduled to make a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund.
European Union officials said they have already made major concessions, dropping a budget surplus target from 3 percent to 1 percent this year.
Markets continued to react badly to the news on the talks. The Athens Stock Exchange’s main index sank another 3.2 percent, while the yield on Greece’s two-year bond has soared above 30 percent, a sign investors are more worried about a default.