European shares edged lower ahead of fresh talks between Greece and its creditors. As Ivor Bennett reports, a standoff over debt relief is fuelling market scepticism that a deal can be reached by the end of the month.
It doesn't look like a country in crisis. But appearances can be deceptive. Something many in Athens now feel about the ruling Syriza party. After the latest offer by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to Greece's creditors. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) ATHENS RESIDENT, SPIROS MELAS, SAYING: "I think that he betrayed the Greek people's vote. Syriza has become a party of the establishment and joined the side of the institutions. (SOUNDBITE) (Greek) RETIRED BUSINESSMAN, NIKOS ADZINAS, SAYING: "Tsipras consciously told pre-election lies and the Greek people believed him. Today he is finally facing reality and is doing what needed to be done." Pensioners in particular aren't holding back. Taking to the streets in protest against the government's concessions Among them, increases to pension contributions and tax hikes. Though it's been welcomed in Brussels, it may not be enough to solve Greece's problems, says Schroders' Alix Stewart. SOUNDBITE (English) ALIX STEWART, FUND MANAGER, SCHRODERS, SAYING: "Just raising taxes to try and solve a government deficit doesn't really work. So you know there is a lot of scepticism about it. But politically it's what the Greeks want to try and do. I don't think anybody is that convinced." Doubt too if a deal can be struck. Euro zone finance ministers the next to attempt to breach the remaining standoffs. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROGROUP CHAIRMAN, JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM, SAYING: "We have work to do today, so if you will allow me I'll try and get that done, thanks." Debt relief is still a central issue, along with VAT exemptions. And then there's the problem of Athens. Any deal must also be passed by the Greek parliament, where Tsipras may need to rely on opposition support. SOUNDBITE (English) ALIX , SCHRODERS, SAYING: "The expectation is that they will vote it through, even if Syriza loses its support and even if some of its coalition partners walk away. But I guess this is a game of brinkmanship, as a lot of this has been. So you know there's no absolute certainty that's going to happen." It's a sentiment echoed by markets. Stocks dropping in Frankfurt, as the end of the month - and a key debt repayment - hurtles ever closer.