Euro-area finance ministers expressed bemusement on the status of talks with Greece after they were presented at the last minute with competing proposals aimed at resolving the standoff over aid.
Greece’s creditors pulled together a common position that doesn’t have the support of the Greek government and sent it to finance chiefs to review as the basis for a deal, said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who chairs meetings of his euro-area counterparts. A Greek government official said that Greece had submitted its own proposals.
“We have run out of comments and also run out of patience,” Malta’s Finance Minister Edward Scicluna told reporters as he arrived for the meeting in Brussels Thursday. The two documents were merged minutes before ministers met, he said. “We don’t know what has been deleted or added. We don’t know where the disagreements are.”
Ministers are losing their calm as they meet for the fourth time in a week after talks between Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the heads of his country’s three creditor institutions failed to produce a compromise position. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that rather than making progress the Greeks had moved “backwards.”
“The process continues -- it’s quite the ping-pong back-and-forth,” said Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb. “The worst case scenario for now is that we continue this tomorrow.”
Dueling plans on the conditions attached to bailout aid have dominated the Greek saga since Tsipras was elected in January on a platform of ending austerity. With the clock ticking to the June 30 expiry of Greece’s euro-area bailout and a 1.5 billion-euro ($1.7 billion) payment to the International Monetary Fund, there’s only a small chance of a breakthrough in the finance minister meeting, according to another EU official.
“We will have to hear in the Eurogroup meeting from the Greek side what their ideas are -- what they could agree to; what they could not agree to, Dijsselbloem said. ‘‘We’ll take it from there.’’
Greek stocks and bonds were trading higher even as successive rounds of talks failed to bridge the gap between Greece and its creditors. The Athens Stock Exchange index was up 0.4 percent at 3:20 p.m. in Athens, having gained 14 percent this week. Government bonds were mixed, with the yield on the two-year bond falling 46 basis points to 22 percent and the 10-year yield up 15 basis points to 11 percent.
In the absence of an agreement this afternoon, the focus shifts to EU leaders who gather in Brussels for a two-day summit later on Thursday.
The talks are ‘‘entering uncharted waters,’’ Slovak Finance Minister Peter Kazimir said in a Twitter post. ‘‘I honestly don’t know what are the chances to reach a deal today. Allow me not to be optimistic anymore - but I’d like to be proven wrong.”
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