Greece cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund next month unless it achieves a deal with creditors – its interior minister said on Sunday – the most explicit remarks yet from Athens about the likelihood of default if talks fail.
Shut out of the bond markets and with bailout aid locked – cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions.
After four months of talks with its eurozone partners and the IMF – the country’s Syriza-led government is still scrambling for a deal that could release up to €7.2bn (£5.1bn) in remaining aid to avert bankruptcy.
‘The four instalments for the IMF in June are €1.6bn. This money will not be given and is not there to be given’ – the interior minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV’s weekend show.
Asked about his concern over a credit event if Athens misses a payment he said: ‘We are not seeking this – we don’t want it – it is not our strategy. Things have matured for a deal of logic.
‘We are discussing – based on our contained optimism – that there will be a strong agreement [with lenders] so that the country will be able to breathe. This is the bet’.
Previously Athens has said it is in danger of soon running out of money without a deal – but has insisted it still plans to make all upcoming payments.