BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece intends to ask for an extension of its loan agreement with the euro zone on Wednesday, a source in Brussels said, distinguishing this from its full bailout programme.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said that Athens would request up to a six-month extension but the conditions were still under negotiation.
The source added that the request would similar to a common statement proposed by European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. Greece says it had been willing to accept this but the document was withdrawn shortly before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Monday.
The new government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has refused to seek an extension of Greece’s bailout programme which expires on Feb. 28, rejecting its requirements that austerity policies be imposed.
Tsipras has made a distinction between the full bailout programme and the issue of Greece’s debts. “A loan agreement is different from a bailout,” he told lawmakers from his left-wing Syriza party in Athens earlier in the day.
In Athens, a government official said Greece was looking at the issue but rejected pressure from the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, who have called on Athens to seek a bailout extension by Friday.
“We’re not accepting ultimatums. We’re not going to request an extension of the programme/bailout,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “We’re examining the possibility of requesting an extension of the loan agreement, clearly differentiating it from the programme/bailout.”
The Eurogroup has so far made clear it is unwilling to separate funding for Greece and its debt repayment obligations from the issue of austerity and reform promises made by the previous conservative-led government. Its chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem has said an extension of the bailout programme would be under conditions little different from the present deal.
Writing by David Stamp