Europe ’Plays With Fire’ as Greek Rescue Hits Barrier

As reported by James G. Neuger and Eleni Chrepa from bloomberg, Greece said that Europe’s wealthier countries are “playing with fire” by toying with the idea of expelling it from the 17-nation euro area as talks over a second aid program ran into new obstacles.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos leveled the accusation after a decision slated for tonight on aid totaling 130 billion euros ($171 billion) was postponed until at least Feb. 20 and possibly until after a full-time Greek government emerges from elections later in the year.

“We are continually faced with new terms,” Venizelos told reporters in Athens today. “In the euro area, there are plenty who don’t want us anymore. There are some playing with fire, domestically and abroad. Some are playing with torches and some are playing with matches. But the risk is equally great.”

Two years after pledging to pull Greece back from the brink, European leaders are torn between pouring more aid into the struggling economy or risking an unprecedented national bankruptcy that might force the country out of the euro and prompt renewed market tumult.

Euro finance ministers started a conference call at 5 p.m. Brussels time after scrapping plans for a physical meeting due to doubts about Greece’s readiness. Luxembourg Prime MinisterJean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the euro panel, now targets a Greek aid decision at the previously scheduled Feb. 20 meeting.

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