ATHENS - Greece says it aims to clinch a deal with its creditors by Sunday, a development that would allow it to receive the desperately needed final installment of its international bailout plan and prevent a default.
But similar optimism expressed a day earlier, which caused a market rally, proved short-lived after key creditor states like Germany warned a final agreement remained elusive. Without one, Greece risks default and a potential exit from the European joint currency.
"This optimism that the Greek government is expressing is not idle talk. It is based on very specific facts,'' government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told reporters on Thursday. "We are going into these negotiations with the aim to have an agreement with our partners by Sunday.''
Sakellaridis' comments come a day after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said a deal was near, and Greek officials said the text of an agreement was being written up. Late Wednesday night, Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said he expected a deal during the weekend.
"We believe conditions are now ripe for an agreement to be reached,'' Sakellaridis said. "The Greek government has submitted very specific proposals. It has submitted very realistic proposals.''
Greece's new government, elected in January, has been in talks for four months on what reforms it should make to get the final bailout installment of 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) from fellow eurozone states and the International Monetary Fund.
Athens needs the funds to be able to repay an IMF loan installment of more than 300 million due June 5. The installment is just one of four due to the IMF in June, all repayments of loans that made up Greece's 240 billion euro bailout, which began five years ago.
The radical left Syriza party won the elections on promises to repeal deeply resented austerity measures that accompanied the country's bailout, arguing they had simply increased hardship and poverty and left the economy in a depression.
But Greece's creditors insist it must take measures to ensure its economy is reformed and doesn't slip back into the bad habits of the past, with reckless borrowing and an overinflated an inefficient public sector. Negotiations on what measures exactly Athens must take have dragged with little evidence of progress for months.
"This Greek government has chosen to negotiate hard,'' Sakellaridis said. "It has chosen to negotiate hard not to prove that it is tough, it is negotiating hard because it believes that what was agreed on by previous Greek governments put the Greek economy and Greek society on the wrong tracks.''