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Merkel turns the screw as Greece faces intense pressure to accept tough reforms and austerity measures

Tonight’s talks have been described as a “mental waterboarding” of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Europe Greece Bailout Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, and Alexis Tsipras speaking outside tonight's emergency summit meeting Source: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 9.20pm

GREECE HAS BEEN presented with the Eurozone’s demands for a new bailout programme, and the proposals on the table would see the Greeks forced to vote through sweeping changes by Wednesday night.

The proposals would see Greece streamlining its VAT procedures, broadening its tax base, and implementing a raft of spending cuts among other demands.

Premier Alexis Tsipras was tonight put through the wringer in a meeting with Donald Tusk, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, where he was left under no illusions that the swift reforms are expected to be implemented this week.

Greek officials are believed to be ‘humiliated’ by today’s events, and highly critical of the hardline stance being taken by German Chancellor Merkel.

As anti-austerity protesters gathered in central Athens this evening to encourage Tsipras to hold firm and not give in to the Eurozone’s demands, UCD economics professor Karl Whelan said on Twitter that he believes the EU’s proposals show that Germany is determined to get Greece out of the Eurozone:

Earlier…

Meanwhile, French president Francois Hollande said he will do  everything he can to keep Greece in the eurozone.

Arriving for tonight’s emergency summit in Brussels, Hollande said “France is going to do everything to reach an agreement tonight.”

“It is Europe that is at stake,” he said.

Hollande also sought to douse any talk that a temporary Greek exit from the eurozone is possible. He said Greece is either in or out, adding that the latter would be a retreat for Europe.

Germany has drawn up plans for a temporary five-year Greek exit from the euro if it fails to improve its bailout proposals, a European source told AFP yesterday as eurozone finance ministers met in Brussels.

“It’s an internal paper, it was not distributed today (at the eurozone meeting). There were two options: an improvement of the proposals, or temporary ‘Grexit’,” said the source, who had seen the paper.

The EU today cancelled a full 28-nation summit today to decide Greece’s fate in the single European currency as eurozone finance ministers continue “difficult” reform-for-bailout talks with Athens.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras says he’s ready for a compromise deal with European creditors and that an agreement later today is possible if “all parties want it.”

Tsipras said Europeans want to see Europe “united and not divided

European Council President Donald Tusk said he has cancelled EUCO (the European Union summit):

The move came after divided eurozone finance ministers held “very difficult” talks on Greece late into the night on Friday.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Eurogroup, comprising finance ministers from the 19-nation single currency area, was supposed to pave the way for all European Union leaders to sign a final agreement at an emergency summit today, billed as the last chance to keep Greece in the euro.

Sceptical nations demanded more commitments from Athens.

Europe Greece Bailout Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem Source: Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images

Finland’s parliament decided it will not accept any new bailout deal for Greece, media reports said yesterday.

It is one of several EU countries whose national parliaments must sign off of any debt deal for Greece.

Finnish lawmakers’ decision to push for a Grexit came after the eurosceptic Finns Party, the second-largest in parliament, threatened to bring down the government if it backed another rescue deal for Greece, public broadcaster Yle reported citing sources close to the talks.

Conservative Party Conference 2012 Timo Soini, leader of the Finns Party Source: David Jones/PA Archive/Press Association Images

In Finland, it is the country’s “Grand Committee” — made up of 25 of parliament’s 200 MPs — which gives the government a mandate to negotiate on an aid agreement for Greece.

Members of the committee met for talks in Helsinki on Saturday afternoon to decide their position, YLE reported.

The Finnish parliament declined to comment on the media report.

Greece Bailout Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Source: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP/Press Association Images

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said the “issue of credibility and trust was discussed” by ministers, who are wary of the Greek government’s commitment to enacting the new reforms which closely resemble those rejected by voters in a surprise referendum.

“We haven’t concluded our discussions. It is still very difficult but work is still in progress,” said Dijsselbloem after nine hours of gruelling talks.

Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb was more upbeat, despite reports that Finland’s parliament has decided it will not allow the government to accept any new bailout deal for Greece.

“We are making good progress,” he said.

EU Commissioner for economic affairs Pierre Moscovici, who has been among the most sympathetic to Greece’s plight, said: “I am always hopeful.”

- © AFP, 2015.

With reporting from Cianan Brennan

Originally published 9.58am

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