Greece's Varoufakis says Merkel faces "stark choice" at Monday meeting

BERLIN (Reuters) - Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said German Chancellor Angela Merkel will face a "stark choice" on Monday when euro zone leaders meet to decide whether or not to strike a deal with Greece to save it from bankruptcy.

In an article published on the website of the Frankfurt Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung on Saturday, Varoufakis suggested that it was up to Europe's most powerful leader rather than the government in Athens to move to avoid a Greek default.

"On Monday, the German Chancellor will face a stark choice," Varoufakis wrote, in English.

"Enter into an honourable agreement with a government that opposed the 'bailouts' and which seeks a negotiated solution that ends the Greek crisis once and for all.

"Or ... heed the sirens from within the Federal Government encouraging her to jettison the only Greek government that is principled and which can carry the Greek people along the path of genuine reform. The choice, I am very much afraid, is hers."

As Athens and its international creditors remain deadlocked over a debt deal, withdrawals from Greek banks have accelerated and government revenue has slumped.

Merkel has insisted that it is up to Greece to first reach an agreement with the three institutions involved: the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

On Friday, she said the meeting of euro zone heads of government would only be an advisory summit if there was no basis for a decision.

Other European leaders have also dampened expectations, with European Council President Donald Tusk saying it would not provide a "magic solution" for Greece and that Athens would soon have to choose whether to accept a "good offer" of support or head towards default.

While Greece's government has dug in its heels over demands for pension cuts and tax rises, Varoufakis continued to sound upbeat about reaching a deal.

"Our side will arrive in Brussels with the determination to compromise further as long as we are not asked to do what previous governments did: to accept new loan tranches under conditions that offer little hope that Greece can repay its debts," he wrote.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Digby Lidstone)