Greece submits new, 'realistic' reform plan, PM Tsipras says

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during a meeting at the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs in Athens June 2, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS  
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras looks on during a meeting at the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs in Athens June 2, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS  

ATHENS (AFP) - Greece said Tuesday it has made "difficult concessions" in a "realistic" reform plan it has put to its creditors as a critical repayment on its massive debt looms.

"Last night a complete plan was submitted... a realistic plan to take the country out of the crisis," Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters in Athens.

"We have made concessions, because a negotiation demands concessions, we know these concessions will be difficult," the leader of the country's left-wing Syriza government admitted.

He was speaking as speculation mounted that Athens was about to receive an ultimatum from its creditors after four months of fractious talks.

In Brussels, the EU hailed the exchange of documents as a positive step but stopped short of confirming it had received the Greek reform plan.

"Many documents are being exchanged between the institutions and the Greek authorities... The fact that documents are being exchanged is a good sign," European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said.

Asked about the possibility of a deal, she added: "We're not there yet." The Greek government said the proposals were in line with a column in France's Le Monde daily, penned by Tsipras on Monday.

In it, the 40-year-old prime minister defended his government's determination to bolster labour rights in a country staggering under sweeping unemployment.

Tsipras added that his administration would implement a series of privatisations that it had previously opposed, and reform the value added tax system as well as the pension system.

The move came as the chiefs of the IMF and the European Central Bank met with the leaders of Germany and France and the head of the European Commission on Monday to reportedly come up with a "final proposal" to put to Athens.

European markets, which had slid in early trading Tuesday amid the growing uncertainty, rallied slightly on Tsipras's comments.

"I am confident, I believe the political leadership of Europe will approach our positions with respect and join the side of realism," Mr Tsipras added.

A government source told AFP that a 46-page draft agreement had been submitted, but declined to go into further detail.

The creditors in Europe and the IMF are pushing for greater reforms in return for the cash, which Greece's anti-austerity government has refused to match.

Greece is staring at a Friday deadline to repay more than 300 million euros (S$448 million) to the IMF.

Overall it needs to repay the global lender some 1.6 billion euros this month, funds it currently lacks.

There are fears that Greece could default, possibly setting off a chain reaction that could end with a messy exit from the eurozone.

'Snap election' fear

The EU's commissioner for economic and monetary affairs on Tuesday said there had been "serious progress" in talks over Greece's debt crisis, but much still needs to be achieved.

There is still "work to be done", Pierre Moscovici told French radio.

Providing a little more detail on the talks, Moscovici said Athens had submitted a number of proposals on overhauling the fragile pension system.

Greece has been locked for four months in tough negotiations with international creditors in a bid to release 7.2 billion euros in remaining bailout funds.

Tsipras is under pressure from his party's influential radical wing to reject any reform plan that piles more austerity on the recession-hit country.

"We do not accept ultimata or succumb to blackmail," deputy prime minister Yiannis Dragasakis said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Other officials said the government would rather hold snap elections than accept a deal piling on more austerity.

"If the agreement is bad for the government, the people and the country it will not even be tabled in parliament... we will have to hold elections," junior labour minister Dimitris Stratoulis told Skai Radio.

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