BRUSSELS — Eurozone officials dug in for tough talks with Greece at an emergency meeting Wednesday, where the country's finance minister was set to unveil its first concrete proposals on how to lighten the current bailout program.
The meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers is the first since the radical-left Syriza party won the general election in Greece last month on a pledge to lighten the country's bailout loans and the associated budget austerity measures.
Top eurozone officials, however, played down expectations of a quick deal as Greece's finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, prepared to unveil the new government's proposals.
Varoufakis has said he wants to scrap Greece's current bailout program and agree on a new one. That would take time, though, and Greece's current bailout program ends after Feb. 28.
Without the bailout's financial support, Greece faces bankruptcy — and a possible exit from the eurozone, a development that would devastate Greece's economy and throw global financial markets into turmoil.
Varoufakis has suggested Greece be granted a "bridging loan" to tide it over for a few months. In return, Greece would commit to further reforms, particularly tax increases.
Eurozone officials have poured cold water on the idea of writing up a new bailout deal.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs the meetings of eurozone finance ministers, promised to listen to Greece's plans but suggested a conclusive deal was unlikely on Wednesday. The finance ministers will meet again Monday.
The eurozone officials, he said, will "look at how we can deal with this over the coming days."
Pierre Moscovici, the European Union's economic and financial affairs commissioner, echoed that view.
"First of all tonight we must be clear on how we are going to move towards the next steps," he said.
The new Greek government won elections last month on a mandate to seek and get concessions from Greece's creditors, which also includes the International Monetary Fund. The IMF's managing director, Christine Lagarde, is also due at the meeting later Wednesday as is European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
On the eve of the meeting, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said there was "no way back" for his government in its quest to rewrite the bailout terms. Tsipras is due to meet his EU counterparts for a first summit meeting on Thursday, but the leaders are expected to shy away from any negotiations on the bailout deal, leaving that to Monday's meeting of finance ministers.
Despite the divisions, there remains hope for compromise.
"It is clear that we are seeking a common solution," said Martin Jaeger, a finance ministry spokesman for Germany, Greece's most influential creditor.
Markets have been volatile over the past two weeks amid the uncertainty over a deal. After big gains on Tuesday, markets were down on Wednesday. The main stock index in Athens fell 4 percent Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Greek government sold 13-week Treasury bills at a significantly higher interest rate than at a similar sale last month. The higher rate indicates investors are more worried about Greece not repaying its debts.
Greece raised 1.13 billion euros at a rate of 2.5 percent, up from 2.15 percent at the last such auction on Jan. 14. The European Central Bank has said that Greece can issue up to 15 billion euros in such short-term debt. The Greek finance ministry wants to be allowed to issue a further eight billion euros worth.
Raf Casert in Brussels, Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens, Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.