The Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis arrived in Brussels on Friday afternoon for crunch talks with his Eurogroup counterparts, optimistic that a deal can be reached on his request for a new six-month bailout.
“I have no doubt that there’ll be a very collegial discussion and hopefully at the end of this we’ll come out with some white smoke”.
Essentially it was Germany that rejected Greece’s request, but the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said the talks were about more than money.
“It’s not about individual countries”, said Schauble. “It’s about Europe. It’s about the possibility of trusting each other and strengthening the confidence of the people in all European countries in the progress of the act of European unification.”
On his arrival the French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin, was asked if a Greek exit from the euro is an option?
“No..the only option is to work to get an agreement and that’s what we’re going to do so that Greece can stay in the eurozone, and that Greece can feel comfortable inside the euro area, and that the rest of the euro area can be comfortable with Greece.”
Those thoughts were backed up earlier on Friday when French President Francois Hollande said much the same after talks with the German chancellor Angela Merkel.
And if the Dutch finance minister who heads the Eurogroup did not seem so certain, he certainly was not walking away.
“It will take some time”, said Jerome Dijsselbloem, “but there are still reasons for some optimism. But it’s very difficult as you will understand.”
If an agreement is not reached at the talks, our correspondent in Brussels says there could be a full-blown eurozone summit.