Nervous times awaiting Greece's next move

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras Image copyright EPA
Image caption Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is under immense pressure at home

The Greek government's decision not to make the IMF repayment on Friday is being interpreted across Europe as a political statement rather than desperate economic necessity.

Greek officials familiar with the country's financial situation say it has the money to make the bank transfer and the next IMF payment due in a few days' time.

So the decision to become the first developed country EVER to delay a repayment to the IMF is understood as being the latest message of defiance from Greece to its international creditors: "Don't push us too far. We'd rather snap than bend".

And it could yet come to that.

No 1 priority

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is under immense pressure at home, as will be painfully evident on Friday when he addresses the restive Greek parliament.

His party was, of course, voted into government on an anti-austerity ticket, with a promised hard line attitude towards Greece's hated international creditors.

At this tense, precarious stage in bailout negotiations, Athens is prickling with rumours that Mr Tsipras may yet call a referendum or even snap elections in the hope of getting a popular mandate either to crash out of the eurozone or, more likely, a popular nod to take the medicine necessary to stay in.

Mr Tsipras reportedly spoke again at length to France's President Francois Hollande and to Germany's Angela Merkel by phone on Thursday night.

In a BBC interview a little earlier, the German chancellor told me that Greece remained a No 1 priority for her.

She said she still hoped there would be a positive outcome but admitted the negotiations were tough and she was insistent that the Greek government still had a lot of work to do.

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Media captionPreparing for five minutes with the most important woman in the world

Often painted as the villain of this drama, it's worth remembering that Chancellor Merkel is also under huge pressure at home over Greece's euro woes, including from within her normally extremely loyal CDU party.

Greece was front page news in the German newspapers again on Friday - as it is most days.

German taxpayers are the biggest European national contributors to Greek bailout funds.

Germans are very aware that this current hoo-ha is focused only on finding a short-term solution for Greece, never mind Greece's long-term economic viability.

The current vexed bailout runs out at the end of this month.

Greece will then still need tens of billions of euros of help to survive.

EU leaders are used to late-night, last-minute compromises.

Many are planning for that on Greece at an EU summit late this month.

But Alexis Tsipras is not your typical euro-politician.

He remains an unknown quantity and that makes Europe's economists and politicians pretty nervous.