Greece pleads for more time

Greece pleads for more time

BERLIN — Greece made little immediate progress in its quest for more time to carry out painful cuts during talks between its Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.

By (AP)

Published: Sat 25 Aug 2012, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:17 PM

But the German leader did offer some support to the stricken country, stressing that Berlin wanted to keep Greece in the euro and that it won’t rush to make any premature judgments about its reform efforts.

In German and French media this week, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been arguing that his country should have more time beyond the mid-2014 deadline to complete reforms that are a condition of it continuing to receive bailout loans. Without the help, Greece would be forced into a chaotic default on its debts and could be forced out of the eurozone.

Leading German politicians have voiced deep scepticism about granting Greece any concessions. Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, meeting a day before Samaras came to Berlin, put the onus squarely on Greece to fulfill its pledges.

Athens has faltered in the speed and effectiveness of implementing the reforms — irritating creditors, notably Germany, which is the single largest contributor to its €240 billion ($300 billion) bailout packages.

Greece’s continued access to the bailout packages hinges on a favourable report next month from the so-called “troika” of the country’s debt inspectors — the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. If Greece is found to have failed on key economic reforms that are conditions of the bailout loan, vital funds could be halted.

“To win back confidence, we must fulfill expectations, and so I made clear in the talks that we of course expect from Greece that the commitments that were made be implemented, that deeds follow words,” Merkel said after meeting Samaras.

“But fulfilling expectations also means that Greece can rightly expect from Germany that we do not pass premature judgments,” Merkel said, adding that Germany needs to wait for the debt inspectors’ report.

Merkel didn’t address Samaras’ hopes of winning more time to carry out reforms, which he reiterated at Friday’s joint news conference, emphasising that stimulating economic growth is a priority.

“We don’t want more aid, we did not ask for more money; but we need time to breathe — it is a big leap that Greece is making,” he said. He didn’t specify how long that “time to breathe” might be.

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