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Will Greece bend under EU pressure?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 02:03

EU finance ministers are piling pressure on Greece to remain in an international financial rescue programme. But as Ciara Lee reports they are showing no signs yet of giving in despite the euro weakening on fears of financial turmoil.

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The ball is back in your court. That was the message to Greece after Athens rejected a six-month extension of its bailout package. Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP CHAIRMAN AND DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, STEPPING OUT OF CAR AND SAYING: "We cannot make them nor we will not ask them. It really is up to them. We stand ready to work with them, also the next couple of days. I never go into "if" questions, I'm just telling you what I think would be wise." Greece has until the end of the week to decide if it will tow the line. The country's future in the currency bloc hangs in the balance and that's causing some jitters. European stocks fell slightly and yields on the bonds of other struggling euro zone economies rose. But the broader market was not in full panic mode. The euro was only slightly lower as investors held out hope for a deal. Kerry Craig is from JP Morgan Asset Management. (SOUNDBITE) KERRY CRAIG, GLOBAL MARKET STRATEGIST, JP MORGAN, SAYING: "These negotiations do blow hot and cold and markets are going to react to that. But they need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and that is that both sides are starting to find a small amount of common ground. Greece is no longer demanding debt relief, you are perhaps going to see some movement on the target for the primary budget surplus that the euro zone wants." It was a different story in Athens though. The main Greek index was down more than four percent in morning trade. Shares in the country's banks fell almost nine percent. The big question now is how long can Greece stay afloat without foreign support. The ECB will decide this week whether to maintain emergency lending to Greek banks that are bleeding deposits at an estimated rate of 2 billion euros a week. (SOUNDBITE) (English) (SOUNDBITE) KERRY CRAIG, GLOBAL MARKET STRATEGIST, JP MORGAN, SAYING: "That's pretty sustainable over a longer period. It's more a case of death by a thousand cuts than seeing a big artery being cut in terms of the Greek banking centre. As long as the ECB provides that emergency liquidity assistance programmes to the Greek banks they can actually maintain themselves for a while. But without support from creditors, the Greek government only has a matter of weeks before bankruptcy. And without a political deal it could also become the first country to ditch the euro - that's a prospect many haven't yet fully acknowledged.

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Will Greece bend under EU pressure?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 02:03