Debt-laden Greece and EU paymaster Germany have struck hardline postures ahead of a crucial meeting of euro zone finance ministers. But as Ciara Lee reports France has called for compromise
Kick starting the week with a flash of optimism, global shares hit their highest since September and the euro firmed. Investors were placing their bets on the euro zone finance ministers reaching a deal to shore up Greece's finances. EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici was also upbeat. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER, PIERRE MOSCOVICI, SAYING: "We know what the terms of reference are, we know where now, because there have been technical works, where are the differences, where they lie. I think we have got the capacity to conclude positively." But the leaders must find common ground between two entirely opposing aims. And Berenberg's Christian Schulz says there is little chance of Germany agreeing to ditch the current bailout terms. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG, CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SAYING: "The realitiy that Greece depends on new money and that the euro zone is not going to give in to all these Greek demands I think is gradually sinking in in Athens. But if we can believe all the statements over the weekend that Greeks are still far away from accepting that they need to continue the reforms and not reverse them." That could be some way off judging by these protests in Athens over the weekend. Thousands took to the streets to send an anti-austerity message to Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR ECONOMIST, BERENBERG, CHRISTIAN SCHULZ, SAYING: "Once that reality sinks in, could still pull the trigger and start some sort of process which leads in to the abyss of euro exit and default." Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won the election on a promise to scrap the 240 billion euro bailout and end cooperation with the "troika". But he needs something in its place and the clock is ticking, says Baader Bank's Robert Halver. (SOUNDBITE) (German) CAPITAL MARKET ANALYST FROM BAADER BANK, ROBERT HALVER, SAYING: "Time for Greece is running out. They need a deal by the end of this month. There is no such deal so far and it will be tight." Greece and Germany may be sticking to their tough line over the issue, but France is calling for compromise. It says Europe must respect the political changes in Greece and has hinted there may be some easing of opposition within the euro zone.