Greece: running out of options

The likelihood of Greece leaving the eurozone has risen amid signs that its government and European officials won't be able to agree on reforms.

739-Greece-634

Has Alexis Tsipras cut a deal with Russia?

The likelihood of Greece leaving the eurozone rose again this week, amid signs that its government and European officials would be unable to agree on proposed reforms. On Friday, the Greek government and Eurogroup officials are due to meet in Riga to discuss the current list of reforms.

The outcome of this meeting will determine whether Greece is to receive some of the €7.2bn still pending from its bailout programme. Without this, it's unlikely to be able to meet debt replayments next month.

On Monday the government seized the cash of the country's local governments, a move that suggests the money could be about to run out. And policymakers seem to be looking elsewhere for financial support. Earlier this month Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras visited Vladimir Putin in Russia, sparking reports of a €5.4bn natural gas pipeline deal between the two countries.

What the commentators said

Perhaps that's for the best, said Mark Gilbert on bloombergview.com. "There's a strong argument to be made that Greece should never have been allowed in to the euro in the first place."The country cheated its way in by hiring Goldman Sachs to do some "fancy financial engineering in the derivatives market" to ensure membership.

It took until 2004 before it admitted any wrongdoing, at which point it "should probably have been ejected". Even in the event of continued eurozone membership, "the idea that a nation could be in default and still be treated as an equal by its euro peers stretches credulity".

The problem is that Greece has no good options and salvation certainly doesn't lie in Moscow, said Mehreen Kahn in The Daily Telegraph. Insiders say that the pipeline deal "could be penned as early as this week", but the money won't keep the country afloat past June. If anything, "a pact with Putin might just see the country descend further into a political and financial abyss".

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