ATHENS - Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had "criminal responsibility" for Greece's debt crisis, and called on the country's European creditors to assess the IMF's policies.
"The time has come for the IMF's proposals to be judged not just by us but especially by Europe," Mr Tsipras told his leftist Syriza party parliamentary group, two days after the failure of debt talks with the IMF and the European Union brought Greece closer to a possible default.
"The IMF has criminal responsibility" for today's situation, he said.
Mr Tsipras had, hours earlier, hinted that Athens could cede ground in its deadlock with creditors to try and avert a devastating default.
"The PM told me there are two or three gestures he can make," pro-EU opposition politician Stavros Theodorakis said after meeting Mr Tsipras earlier in the day. He added that Mr Tsipras "hopes that our European friends will make equivalent gestures".
But the Prime Minister later told lawmakers in his Syriza party he would defy what he called an attempt to "humiliate" his government, saying that an insistence by international lenders on further cuts was politically motivated.
He said he wanted a deal that would put an end to talk of Greece leaving the euro zone, but also restated the position he has maintained since talks with lenders broke down on Sunday.
"The mandate we have got from the Greek people is to end the austerity policy," he told Syriza MPs. "In order to achieve that, we have to seek a deal which will spread the burden evenly and which will not hurt wage earners and pensioners."
The embattled 40-year-old Premier also held a round of consultations with rival political leaders yesterday to seek support for a potential compromise deal with the IMF and the EU, with just two weeks before Greece's massive international bailout expires.
Also at the end of the month, Greece faces a €1.6 billion (S$2.4 billion) payment to the IMF, with a further €6.7 billion due to the European Central Bank in July and August, which Greek officials have said the government cannot afford.
Before his meeting with Mr Theodorakis, Mr Tsipras said: "It's critical to close this vicious circle, not to be forced into a deal that will bring us back to the same position in six months."
Mr Tsipras' Syriza party won elections in January with a promise to ease the hardship caused by five years of austerity imposed under two international bailouts since 2010, totalling €240 billion.
Athens is resisting the creditors' demands to raise taxes and reform pensions, arguing that such measures have already failed to revive the recession-hit Greek economy.
Mr Tsipras said there was a "major contradiction" in the position of Greece's creditors.
"The IMF asks for tough measures and debt restructuring, and the others ask for tough measures without restructuring," he said.
Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission vice-president for the euro, said the creditors had shown "substantial flexibility".
It had been hoped that a deal could be reached by tomorrow, when the euro zone's 19 finance ministers, who control the purse strings of the rescue plan, meet in Luxembourg. Sources in Brussels said European leaders may hold an emergency summit on Greece this weekend if tomorrow's talks do not make any progress.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS