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Varoufakis ‘still confident’ of EU deal on bailout

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis claimed yesterday that he was confident a deal with the EU over the country’s loathed bailout could be found.

He warned that the February 28 deadline may be tight but “our strong stance, based on logic, will lead to an agreement, even at five minutes past the hour.”

Athens has been steeling itself for a difficult meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels today.

And Mr Varoufakis warned there were still issues of friction, such as privatisations and labour rights.

But he still insisted: “There is no plan B.”

Meanwhile, thousands of Greeks took to the streets for pro-government demonstrations, with supporters across Europe holding their own rallies to call on Brussels to loosen the austerity noose.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won elections last month on promises to ditch the programme, which he said was strangling the economy.

He laid out plans for a new deal at his first European Union summit last week.

But the EU merely urged Greece to prolong its bailout, without which it fears it will default on its debts.

It is also unwilling to let Greece off the hook while other EU member states that received bailouts are looking on.

The Greek government insists it wants a “bridge programme” while it negotiates a new deal on an austerity package that has punished ordinary Greeks, creating desperate poverty and sky-high unemployment.

The jobless rate was 25.8 per cent in November, with youth unemployment at a towering 50.6 per cent.

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