Greek debt deadline: Finance minister Yanis Varoufakis hits back at creditors

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis says he will not back down over debt
Greece's defiant finance minister lashed out at the country’s lenders last night, insisting that he will not back down during crunch talks despite impending debt deadlines.

Yanis Varoufakis was speaking after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) all but ruled out the prospect of Greece being allowed to delay its repayments to the bailout provider.

“Payment delays have not been granted by the board of the IMF in the last 30 years,” IMF boss Christine Lagarde said. “It is clearly not a course of action that would actually fit or be recommendable”.

The prospect of a Greek default saw yields on the government’s short-term debt jump to over 27 per cent.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble – speaking at the summit in Washington alongside Lagarde and Varoufakis – added to Greek pressure by stressing that it must bring about reforms before it can be given the next €7.2bn (£5.2bn) bailout tranche.

Despite being backed into a corner, Varoufakis came out fighting. “We have the right to be heard, and we have the right to challenge the logic of a programme that has clearly failed,” he said, blaming Greek woes on the policies imposed by lenders on the previous Greek government.

“Track records matter. The problem we inherited from the previous government is a sorry one.”

Varoufakis said Greece was “keener than anyone to bring negotiations to a conclusion” but argued that signing the current agreement would be “wrong by creditors, wrong by our people”. The Syriza-led government will not accept the current conditions simply to get the next €7.2bn payout, he said.

Greece is scheduled to pay €200m to the IMF on 1 May and then €770m on 12 May.

City A.M. understands that the Greek finance minister will today meet with sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit from US law firm Cleary Gottlieb. Buchheit helped Greece to restructure its debt in 2012.

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