ATHENS, Greece, June 14 (UPI) -- Negotiations between the Greek government and international creditors in Belgium this weekend -- considered Athens' last chance to sidestep bankruptcy and a default on billions in loan repayments -- collapsed without any agreement in sight, officials said Sunday.
The European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank have been working to assist Greece as the Mediterranean nation looks for a solution to their deep financial troubles. Athens is supposed to pay back the balance of a €240 billion bailout loan -- and a €1.6 billion payment to the IMF -- by June 30.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, though, has already said his government won't be able to meet those obligations. This weekend's meetings were an 11th-hour effort to unlock the remaining €7.2 billion in aid Greece needs to avoid default.
The European Commission on Sunday said the two sides aren't at all close to a resolution. If a fix can't be found within two weeks, Greece will default on its loan obligations -- a potentially catastrophic scenario for the Mediterranean nation.
"While some progress was made, the talks did not succeed," a commission spokesman said. "On this basis, further discussion will now have to take place in the eurogroup."
Creditors tried to get Greece to agree to certain fiscal reforms to receive the aid -- specifically, cuts in government spending. Creditors have demanded that Athens cut expenses involving wage and pension funds, but Tsipras has steadfastly refused.
The creditors say those reforms are necessary for Greece to achieve necessary growth and sustainability, and they won't lend any more money without them. Tsipras, however, called such concessions "humiliating."
Greece made a repayment of €460 million in April, but has not been able to put any more cash up since. The amount due the IMF by June 30 is three times that amount.
Without the involvement of the three bailout monitors, chances of a resolution this week is remote and raises the possibility that negotiators may resort to a "take it or leave it" strategy -- similar to the plan used with Greece's Mediterranean neighbor Cyprus two years ago, the Financial Times reported.
Thursday, 19 finance ministers from European Union nations will meet in Luxembourg to deliberate on Athens' troubles -- which might include determining whether or not Greece will stay in the euro.
Even Germany -- a nation sympathetic to Athens' problems -- said Sunday that its patience with Athens is wearing thin. Writing in Bild magazine, vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel expressed Berlin's growing frustration. He noted that his nation wants to keep Greece in the euro, but said "not only is time running out, but so too is patience across Europe".
Greece and its creditors have been negotiating for weeks, but a solution to the fiscal problem has proven to be out of reach.
Two days ago, IMF representatives angrily walked out of negotiations with Greece in Belgium after European Union President Donald Tusk criticized Athens for stalling on the loan repayments.
"Everywhere in Europe, the sentiment is growing that enough is enough," Gabriel, who is also Germany's economic minister, wrote in the Bild article.
Defaulting on its loan obligations would be disastrous for the Athens government and likely put its fiscal health into a coma, analysts believe. Heavy deposit withdrawals from banks and forced capital controls, they say, would almost assuredly sink the Greek economy.
Tsipras, who took over the Greek government earlier this year, was elected on promises to jump start the economy, raise the minimum wage and ease up on heavy-handed politicking. Saturday, he warned Greek citizens to expect a "difficult compromise" on its financial mess.