ATHENS, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Greece wants to end a standoff with its lenders through ‘honest compromise’, its finance minister said, indicating a willingness to give ground on reform, but he warned that inflexibility on their part could inflame anti-establishment sentiment in Europe.
Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said he anticipated a deal could allow the country’s inclusion in an asset-buying programme of the ECB by the spring of 2017, allowing Greece to then test markets with a debt issue later in the year.
Greece, which is on its third international bailout since crisis first hit the indebted nation in 2010, is again at odds with lenders on fiscal targets and the scope of reforms required to conclude its latest review on bailout progress.
European Union and International Monetary Fund mission chiefs left Athens last month without a deal on key bailout review issues. Discussions are being held over teleconferences until there is enough progress for direct talks to resume.
“The Greek expression is ‘put water into wine’. It’s not an expression I like, because I wouldn’t like my wine watered down, but you know what I mean, to reach an honest compromise,” Tsakalotos said.
Delays in signing off on the bailout review, he argued, could temper economic recovery, an early return to markets, and further deepen a view - already entrenched with the result of referendums in Britain and Italy - that Europe was out of sync with its citizens.
“I can’t see the logic of returning to uncertainty and delay,” he said adding Greece was meeting its bailout commitments and was ‘constructively engaging’ with creditors. (Reporting by Renee Maltezou and Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Toby Chopra)