Germany has said on Monday it could make sense for Greece to hold a referendum on painful economic reforms under negotiation with its creditors, changing tack as Berlin's own lawmakers bridle at further aid for Athens.
Euro zone governments have previously opposed such a vote, saying there is no time and it could destabilise financial markets and trigger a run on struggling Greek banks.
When former Prime Minister George Papandreou surprised EU partners by proposing a referendum in 2011 at the height of the euro zone debt crisis, he was summoned to emergency talks with leaders of France andGermany and told bluntly to drop the idea.
But with Greece running out of money and desperate for a deal to avert a possible default and exit from the euro zone, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said securing public backing for the necessary sacrifices might be useful.
A referendum could make it easier for leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to climb down on election promises that are making a deal on economic reforms hard to achieve.
"If the Greek government thinks it must hold a referendum, then let it hold a referendum," Schaeuble said on arrival at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers.
"That might even be a helpful measure for the Greek people to decide whether it is ready to accept what is necessary, or whether it wants something different."
Hinting at growing difficulties in persuading conservative German lawmakers to go on funding Greece, Schaeuble said it was unrealistic to think any parliament in Europe would agree without the backing of the International Monetary Fund.
Greece's leftist-led government has accused the IMF of setting harder targets than the European creditors on pension and labour reforms and a primary fiscal surplus. The three institutions have denied any internal differences.
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was due to hold private talks with Schaeuble before the Eurogroupsession, told reporters that Athens would make a crucial 750 million euro payment to the IMF on Tuesday as due.
"Greece will always meet its obligations to its creditors and we are obviously going to do that tomorrow again," Varoufakis told Euronews.
Greece is demanding that the ministers acknowledge "significant progress" in the negotiations, hoping to unlock short-term borrowing to ease its acute financing crunch.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Mayıs 2015, 16:42