On February 16, hopes rose that Greece has finally done enough to secure a second bailout after Athens set out extra budget savings demanded by its international lenders. However, the optimism failed to ease tensions with EU paymaster Germany.
Greek officials hope euro zone finance ministers will sign the deal off on Monday and time is believed to be running out for the country to seal the 30 billion euro ($170 billion) rescue and avoid bankruptcy.
"We are almost there," one euro zone official said and expressed hope that bailout deal may be done when the ministers of the Eurogroup meet in Brussels. "Unless someone really comes up with an idea to undermine the whole deal, it should be approved on Monday," he said.
"There is no certainty but there is cautious optimism," Antonis Samaras, leader of Greece conservative New Democracy party and the favorite to win the elections, told reporters. "Greece has done what it had to do," said Samaras, whose party is one of the two remaining in the coalition of technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos.
One Greek cabinet member lashed out at the EU for "sheer blackmail," when faced with calls for greater scrutiny of Greece's implementation of the deal.
"Any other intervention, any new demands by our lenders, will mean they are mocking the country," Public Order Minister and former EU commissioner Christos Papoutsis said.
"Some in Europe forget that behind the numbers are people," Papoutsis said. Union leaders called for a new rally on Sunday "to answer all those who want Greece under German occupation."