(Reuters) – Greece let yet another deadline slip on Monday for responding to painful terms for a new EU/IMF bailout, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel made clear Europe’s patience is wearing thin over drawn-out negotiations among its feuding political leaders.
Failure to strike a deal to secure the 130 billion euro ($170 billion) rescue risks pushing Athens into a chaotic debt default which could threaten its future in the euro zone.
Merkel turned up the heat, saying Athens had to come to terms with the “troika” of lenders – the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF – to get the funds it needs to meet big debt repayments in March.
Greek political leaders, positioning themselves for a likely general election in April, have baulked at accepting another package of deeply unpopular wage and pension reductions, job cuts and tougher tax enforcement measures.
Speaking in Paris alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Merkel said she wanted quick action from Athens.
“We want Greece to stay in the euro,” she told a news conference. But she added: “I want to make clear once again that there can be no deal if the troika proposals are not implemented. They are on the table, time is of the essence. Something needs to happen quickly.”