Despite triumphing in a popular vote against austerity, Greece’s leaders Monday faced the urgent need to heal ties with European creditors and reach a financial rescue deal to prevent it from falling out of the euro — possibly within days.
“Time is of the essence,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after discussing the Greek crisis with French President Francois Hollande in Paris. “[Greek]proposals have to be on the table this week.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won big in Sunday’s referendum, with 61 percent of voters rejecting the economic measures creditors had proposed in exchange for loans Greece needs to remain afloat. He also received the rare backing of opposition parties to restart bailout negotiations.
But his bolstered mandate to push for better concessions from creditors hit the hard reality of the country’s deteriorating finances,
Hours after revelers left Athens’ main Syntagma Square to celebrate the “no” victory, European lenders warned that Greece faced a strict deadlines to avoid disaster.
The European Central Bank maintained its level of cash assistance to Greek banks ahead of Tuesday’s emergency meeting of European leaders in Brussels, to be joined by Tsipras.
In a sign of compromise, Tsipras appointed a new finance minister to lead talks with creditors and replace Yanis Varoufakis, the hard-talking professor who clashed regularly with his European counterparts.
Euclid Tsakalotos, a 55-year-old economist, has appeared more willing to engage with creditors and will be tested as soon as Tuesday, at a meeting of the other 18 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.
“I won’t hide from you that I am very nervous and very anxious. I am not taking over at the easiest moment in Greek history,” Tsakalotos said after being sworn in.