Greece, eurozone debt talks hit a wall

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel (L) and Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras talk to the press after their meeting on February 12, 2015 at the Lambermont in Brussels.

ERIC LALMAND/AFP/Getty Images

BRUSSELS - Negotiations between Greece and its creditors over the terms of the country's $269 billion rescue package have broken down.

Following an emergency meeting in Brussels, the two sides failed to even issue a statement early Thursday, a sign that a compromise deal over Greece's debts is a long way off.

The gathering of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers was the first since Greeks last month elected the anti-austerity Syriza party, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Syriza has vowed to win concessions from Greece's creditors.

Greece's new government is seeking changes to the country's financial bailout which it blames in large part for the country's economic problems.

The finance ministers will meet again Monday and Greece's finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, laid out the hope that progress could be made then.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurogroup of finance ministers, said detailed proposals weren't even discussed. Dijsselbloem said the "ambition was to agree steps but unfortunately we have not been able to do that."

Greek officials at the meeting were pushing for a 10 billion euro ($11.3 billion) loan extension to avert a funding crisis. Most eurozone officials, marshaled by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, oppose any move to ease Greece's debt payments.

Economists fear that failure to reach a deal could cause financial chaos in Greece, leading to its exit from the eurozone and opening the door to other weakened European economies leaving the currency bloc.

For now, however, global financial markets continue to expect the sides will hammer out a compromise. But that could take weeks, said Richard Kelly, head of global strategy for TD Securities.

"For those who expect a clear agreement on the way forward for Greece in February, we will not have that," he said in a note. "That is not anyone's plan nor was it ever. This is merely about buying the time to have a detailed overhaul of the reform program over the coming months. Buying that time requires cash in the interim."