Over in Athens, prime ministerial aides have denied that European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has rejected a request to speak with Alexis Tsipras [as Suddeutsche Zeitung claims today].
Helena Smith, our correspondent in Athens, says put on the defensive officials have just issued another tersely worded statement.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ aides were adamant: the Greek leader had neither made a request for a meeting with the European Commission chief before Monday’s Euro group, nor was there any let-up in communication between the two men.
A statement issued by Tsipras’ office in the last half hour declared:
“No meeting with Mr Juncker was requested before Monday’s Eurogroup. The prime minister speaks with Mr Juncker regularly. Their last contact was yesterday, Thursday, during which they agreed to meet before the Summit meeting.”
They admitted, however, that talks were underway to discuss how European Union funds could be used to finance the leftist-led government’s plans to alleviate both joblessness and the humanitarian crisis, the by-products of six years of recession and austerity.
“At their meeting, which will take place in the coming days, they will discuss how Greece can productively make use of European funds to combat the humanitarian crisis and unemployment.”
Insiders in the governing Syriza party are also firmly denying that the government will have an “issue” paying public salaries or pensions this month.