Despite an IMF walkout, Greece remains optimistic it will reach a deal with its creditors on June 18th. But with frustration mounting at home, Athens has been warned by the EU to stop gambling with its future. Ciara Lee reports.
It's been a difficult week for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The leader took a break from painful cash-for-reforms talks in Brussels to celebrate the reopening of state broadcaster ERT. Tsipras described the station's closure two years ago as "a great wound" of the country's bailout. But with his country apparently getting closer and closer to bankruptcy, he might have little to smile about. This week the IMF walked away from negotiations. And a top EU leader told Athens to stop gambling with its future. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) GREEK PRIME MINISTER, ALEXIS TSIPRAS, SAYING: "We are fighting as we negotiate, and for as long as the people support the government's efforts, the government will pursue the fair demands of the Greek people so that an agreement can be secured." Greece needs a deal to unlock aid before the end of the month when it is otherwise set to default on a 1.6 billion euro repayment to the IMF. CCLA's James Bevan says the challenges going forward are a big concern. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT CCLA, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "If Greece manages to get through the next month, the big pay date problem will be July 20th when there is a bumper payment due to the ECB. That said even if that payment is paid, the long term outlook for Greece is particularly tricky given the scale of their debt, and the level of overall activity that Greece currently enjoys.'' Greece still hopes to clinch a deal with its lenders at a meeting of finance ministers on June 18th. But frustration on the streets is increasing, with protests like this, once again becoming common place. These students and pensioners fear the government will backtrack on its pre-election pledge to put an end to years of austerity. Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem says a deal is still possible - but only if Athens' propositions make economic sense. Greek shares lurched lower in morning trade, falling 4 percent in the wake of IMF negotiators' withdrawal. Bank shares were the worst hit with some of the country's major banks down between 7.9 and 10 percent. Greek unemployment also back in the spotlight. The jobless rate rose to 26.6 percent in the first three months of the year.