Tsipras tells Merkel 'impossible' to repay debt without EU aid
FRANKFURT - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS PhotoGreece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a letter that Athens will not be able to service its debt without financial help from the EU, the Greek government revealed on March 23.
Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis confirmed a report in the Financial Times which said that Tsipras had written to Merkel.
But he insisted that the letter should not be seen as a "threat".
"This is not a threat, it is reality," Sakellaridis told Mega TV, adding that Tsipras had sent a similar letter to French President Francois Hollande and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
"The letter said nothing less and nothing more than what we have said since last week ... that liquidity is tight and that political initiatives must be taken," the spokesman said.
The FT said it has a copy of a letter dated March 15 in which Tsipras "warns that his government will be forced to choose between paying off loans, owed primarily to the International Monetary Fund, or continue social spending."
"With this letter, I am urging you not to allow a small cash flow issue, and a certain 'institutional inertia', to not turn into a large problem for Greece and for Europe," Tsipras wrote.
Sakellaridis said the letter prompted a mini-summit between Tsipras, Merkel, Hollande and Juncker with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and European Council chief Donald Tusk last week.
Tsipras is to meet Merkel in a one-to-one in Berlin later Monday.
The Greek leader has blamed Merkel's insistence on tough austerity for his country's "humanitarian crisis" of poverty and mass unemployment.
Merkel, for her part, insists that if cash-strapped Greece wants more bailout loans, the biggest share of which is financed by Germany, it must accept the bitter medicine of spending cuts and reforms.
Greece's creditors agreed in February to extend its 240-billion euro ($260 billion) bailout by four months in exchange for promises of further reforms.
At an EU summit last week, Greece lobbied Brussels to release vital funds to help it make payments to creditors in the coming days, and avoid bankruptcy and a possible exit from the euro.