Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Friday the outline of a deal proposed by the country’s international creditors was “absurd” and called the proposal “irrational.”.
“The Greek government is not going to bend to irrational demands,” the Greek premier said during an address in Greece’s parliament, adding the creditors’ proposal was a “bad moment for Europe.”
These remarks come one day after Greece elected to defer a $300 million payment due to the International Monetary Fund until the end of June, a move that has rattled financial markets all around the world.
Greece’s international creditors held an urgently convened meeting in Berlin on Monday evening to narrow their own differences in the hopes of presenting Athens with a definitive offer that would break the long-running impasse. But the events of the last 48 hours indicate the two sides still remain far apart on several key points.
Tsipras repeated Friday that Greece’s counterproposal is the only viable solution. He has argued that creditors should instead accept a more lenient Greek counterproposal submitted this week. Among other things, he wants some form of debt relief, and less dramatic reforms to the country’s pension system.
European officials said the announcement surprised many senior officials from eurozone finance ministries who were holding a conference call when news of Greece’s decision broke.
“Nobody was expecting it,” an EU official said. “It was a political decision, not a technical decision.”
It “was not well received,” the official told The Wall Street Journal.
Opinion polls published on Friday show around three out of four Greeks want to remain in the euro zone. More want their government to accept the offer from European and International Monetary Fund creditors than want them rejected. But Tsipras, elected on promises to end austerity, was defiant.
“The strangulation of a country is a matter of moral order which conflicts with the founding principles of Europe,” Tsipras told the Greek Parliament, adding that the aim of any deal should be “for a solution and not to… humiliate a whole people”.