The crunch negotiations failed in their second day, heaping worry that the cash-starved Greek government was heading irreversibly into a financial abyss with a huge IMF debt payment due at the end of the month.

Greece is a cow slipping on ice that must be pushed to firm ground, says European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker, employing a rustic metaphor for painful days of trying to save headstrong Athens from default and catastrophe.

Alexis Tsipras, the 40-year old Greek premier, whose latest reforms-for-cash proposal was roundly dismissed as 46 pages of “leftist ideology” by exasperated European officials, was treading dangerous waters.

Europe’s negotiators are weary of the young man’s manoeuvering, even though the good-natured Juncker always tousles his hair or pecks him on the cheek when he joins Tsipras for the cameras

“They came with their hands in their pockets,” a furious EU source close to the negotiations told AFP, while Greek officials said the failure was the fault of the International Monetary Fund, the country’s most hardline creditor.

“The demands of the creditors are irrational, the discussions lasted 45 minutes,” an irate Greek government source said.



default: failure to pay your debts

debt-wracked: badly damaged due to debt obligations

to loom: an unpleasant event likely to happen soon

last-ditch talks: a last attempt not expected to succeed

crunch negotiations: (here) difficult negotiations

cash-starved: desperately in need (hunger) for cash

financial abyss: a very difficult, troublesome situation

to dismiss … as : to consider something as not important / not worth considering

exasperated: annoyed

to tread dangerous waters: (here): likely to get into trouble

to be weary of:  to be bored with something

irate: very angry