The eurozone told Greece it must accept tough EU surveillance if it is to close a stalled bailout by next week, despite meeting key hurdles at Wednesday talks.
Three-and-a-half hours of a video conference between finance ministers, at which hardliners pressed for rigid day-to-day management of Greek state revenues and expenditure in Athens, ended with an upbeat initial assessment.
"I am confident that the Eurogroup will be able to take all the necessary decisions on Monday," Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the group of eurozone finance ministers, said of face-to-face talks in Brussels.
He said Greece had delivered on three conditions laid down at their last gathering six days earlier, before partners would consider completing the 230-billion-euro ($300 billion) financial rescue that will keep Greece inside the single currency area.
Juncker said that Greek coalition leaders gave "strong assurances" that austerity and reform would be upheld by whoever wins an April general election, while foreign auditors provided an analysis of Greek debt sustainability and Athens found an extra 325 million euros in cuts.
Greece additionally put forward "a detailed list of prior actions" it must complete, "together with a timeline for their implementation," he added.
However, with trust in Greece wearing thin, Juncker said "further considerations" were necessary on how to supervise Greek decision-making once in receipt of aid, and "to ensure that priority is given to debt servicing."
That came after eurozone Treasury directors endorsed a plan on Tuesday to set up an "escrow," or blocked account, to ensure Greece services debt owed to eurozone partners.
With Greece facing 14.5 billion euros in bond repayments on March 20, tempers frayed in the months-long tug-of-war over the bailout.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble began the day with a radio warning: "We can help but we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit."
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told his countrymen that "there are several (eurozone countries) who no longer want us."
"I do not accept having my country taunted by Mr Schaeuble, as a Greek I do not accept it," the 82-year-old said.
"Who is Mr Schaeuble to taunt Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns?" he added of other states piling pressure on Athens.
Diplomats and officials had said beforehand that ministers could use Monday's meeting to launch a bond swap offer aimed at shaving 100 billion euros off Greece's 350-billion in debts.
Under this approach, authorisation for another 100 billion of loans would be left hanging while banks and other creditors decide whether to accept a writedown worth at least 75 percent of their holdings.
One governmental source, who said Triple A-rated states also including Luxembourg would meet first on Monday, suggested the go-ahead for the bond swap would come with "strings attached."
It would be "conditioned on the Greeks fulfilling certain actions in the coming weeks after the offer goes out to the banks... Otherwise the sweeteners don't get released."
That was a reference to 30 billion euros needed to recapitalise Greek banks.
Backers want Greece's debt level to be brought down from 160 percent today to 120 percent of national output by 2020.
In his letter to eurozone partners, Greek Conservative leader Antonis Samaras, tipped to win the elections, said his party would "remain committed to the objectives, targets and key policies" in the troika programme.
Monti said Greece was now being treated with exaggerated toughness, but noted that "policies conducted in Greece over several years were a perfect catalogue of the worst practices in Europe."
Source: AFP Global Edition