German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble listens to questions from the audience after delivering remarks titled "Eurozone at a Crossroads (Again)” at the Brookings Institution on Thursday. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Before heading to the White House for a celebration of Greek independence hosted by President Obama and Vice President Biden, the Greek finance minister spent much of the day in talks that underlined how dependent his country’s ailing economy is on the rest of Europe.

Greece is pressing Europe to ease terms and is balking at the $3.7 billion in payments due between now and June. And the country is making its campaign for better terms one of the centerpieces of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings here this weekend.

The Greek appeal is yet another test for the IMF and World Bank spring meetings, events that for many years focused on how to promote growth and stabilize finances in the developing and emerging economies of Latin America, Asia and Africa. But now the institutions have been focused largely on Europe — the stagnant, high-unemployment developed economies such as France and Italy, as well as crisis-stricken Greece and war-torn Ukraine.

More than five years after debt-laden Greece required a massive bailout from its partners in the euro zone, the country is still in a state of crisis that has produced a newly elected Syriza party, bent on wresting better terms. Although the government ran a surplus last year, not counting debt payments, the economy has contracted sharply. Unemployment stands at 25 percent and pensions have been slashed.

Friction between Syriza’s leaders and other European finance ministers has driven Greek borrowing costs up sharply. The yield on Greek government 10-year bonds climbed to nearly 12.5 percent.

The standoff was in full display Thursday afternoon, when first the frank German finance minister spoke at the Brookings Institution, and a half-hour later the blunt-spoken Greek finance minister spoke from the same spot.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis complained that European austerity had produced “a monster of a crisis in Greece” and had “engulfed our nation in unbearable hopelessness.”

“Greece went from a period before 2008 of Ponzi growth . . . to a Ponzi period of stringent austerity funded by unsustainable borrowing,” he said. He said plans to privatize state companies would lead to “fire sale” prices.

Earlier, the German finance minister seemed unmoved by Greece’s appeal to change the terms of the existing accord with other European nations. “Greece has to deliver what is agreed,” said the minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. “If not, fine. Then Greece must decide what will happen.”

While Schäuble acknowledged that Greece was far ahead of its restructuring program in some areas, he noted that the minimum wage was still higher than in other European nations and that a high ratio of people worked for the government.

The Obama administration has been urging Germany to accommodate some of Greece’s concerns, but Germany, whose banks were the largest lenders to Greece, has been unwavering in many of its demands. And the Spanish government, threatened by an opposition party in line with Syriza’s complaints about excessive austerity, also opposes too much leniency.

Greece has been pulling political levers in its efforts to win better terms. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met this month with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin in Moscow and denounced Western sanctions against Russia. Putin later said that Tsipras had not asked for aid, but the visit caught attention.

“If you find someone else in Beijing, Moscow, etc., who is willing to lend you money, we are okay, take it,” Schäuble said Thursday.

A wave of pessimism has appeared in recent days about whether Greece would leave the euro zone. While that prospect provoked more alarm five years ago, many banks have already written down the value of loans to Greece, and economists think the rest of Europe is more insulated against a “Grexit,” should one occur.

One IMF official in Washington this week even seemed to suggest that now would be a good time for it.

In a news conference Tuesday, Olivier Blanchard, director of the IMF research department, said that “an exit from the euro would be extremely costly for Greece. It would be extremely painful.”

But, he said, “the rest of the euro zone is in a better position to deal with the Greek exit. Some of the firewalls which were not there earlier are there.” While saying that “it will not be smooth sailing,” he said that if other European nations reassured markets, “this would be clearly the right moment to do it.”

On Wednesday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Reza Moghadam, formerly the IMF’s top European official and now at Morgan Stanley, said that IMF and European leaders had not paid enough attention to the social and political costs of Greece’s restructuring plan.

“We did not think adequately about the scale of the problem and what that means in terms of impact on society and the political outcome,” he said. “It matters at the end of the day. . . . When I was at the fund, I don’t think I paid adequate attention to it.”