Jack Lew, the US Treasury secretary, has advised Athens and its international creditors to acknowledge a bailout deal at the earliest opportunity, stating holdups hindrances impediments are heightening the threat of “an accident” that might force Greece out of the eurozone.
His request for all sides to show flexibility in the talks came as negotiators fought to make progress towards an contract that would unlock seriously required bailout money for Greece.
It also surfaced on Friday that deposit outflows from Greek banks sped up this week, with about €800m withdrawn on Wednesday and Thursday alone, based on 2 senior Athens bankers.
Mr Lew’s involvement comes as Greece looks for the release of €7.2bn of aid that has been frozen since this past year. Without it, Athens is very likely to run out of money and default on its debts – an result that would push it perilously close to crashing out of the eurozone.
Mr Lew, in Dresden for a Group of Seven summit of finance ministers and central bank governors, stated the long negotiations should be finished “sooner rather than later”.
“If these deadlines were taken seriously it would be a good thing for all parties,” he stated.
The US Treasury chief included that delaying an agreement raised the threat of “an accident”. He stated: “If you want to avoid that, the sooner you have a serious conversation, then the better.”
His remarks highlight Washington’s growing annoyance at the failure of the eurozone and Athens to agree the terms of a reform deal, and its concern that a Greek default could send shockwaves through the global economy.
Greece’s bailout monitors – the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank – demand that Athens must present a detailed reform programme if the €7.2bn is to be handed over.