Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras waits to welcome European Council President Donald Tusk at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Michalis Karagiannis(reuters_tickers)
ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece and its lenders must reach a deal on a long-stalled bailout review at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on Friday, the country's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday, blaming creditors for unwarranted delays.
Talks between Greece, the European Union and the Washington-based International Monetary Fund have dragged on for months due to differences over Greece's fiscal progress, labour and energy market reforms, rekindling worries of a new crisis in Europe.
A new rift between Athens and the IMF over fiscal issues and labour reforms has dealt a blow to an preliminary accord, dashing hopes for a bailout review deal before a regular Eurogroup meeting on April 7.
Tsipras said Greece outperformed its fiscal targets last year and that lenders should stop causing unjustified delays in the review, which pose risks to the country's economic recovery.
"The Greek economy is ready to leave the crisis behind it. But despite the impressive fiscal results, some of our creditors appear unrepentant", Tsipras told a news conference after meeting EU Council President Donald Tusk, who is visiting Athens.
"If there is no white smoke at the Eurogroup on Friday, I have already requested an EU leaders' summit," he said.
Tsipras said that Greece achieved a primary budget surplus - before debt payments - of more than 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) last year versus a bailout target of 0.5 percent of GDP.
Responding to criticism, Tusk said that the European Union stood by Greece's side and was facilitating negotiations.
"The sacrifices of the Greek citizens have been immense. One thing must be clear - no one intends to punish Greece, our goal is only to help Greece," he said. "I have no doubt that there is no alternative to a positive breakthrough on Friday."
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Writing by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Alison Williams)