Germany insists that an extension and then completion of the current bailout program for Greece is a condition to any follow-up program, a German official said on Thursday, reinforcing the front between the eurozone΄s paymaster and Athens new left-wing government.
Greece΄s refusal to complete the program and insistence on a three-month bridge loan to tide it over while it negotiates a new bailout deal fell flat at an extraordinary meeting of eurozone΄s finance ministers on Wednesday night.
Greece΄s move surprised German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who had left the meeting before his Greek counterpart withdrew his approval of a draft declaration in which Athens committed itself to meet its financial obligations.
“The ball is now in Greece΄s court,” said a German government official. “There is only one way possible for us to agree to a follow-up solution and that΄s via an extension of the program and a completion.”
Ralph Brinkhaus, a deputy parliamentary floor leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel΄s conservative parties, said the negotiations in Brussels have shown “that it΄s right to keep to our line.”
“The reform progress must be continued,” he said.
Negotiations between Athens and the rest of the eurozone over new financial aid have been difficult since the new center-left government was elected Jan. 25. Greece΄s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to ease austerity and reduce Greece΄s debt burden. He wants to convince the country΄s international creditors to agree to a bridging agreement and has opposed extending the existing bailout demanded by European partners.
Greece has received two successive international bailouts since 2010 worth a total of 240 billion euros ($271.4 billion). About 60% of Greece΄s government debt is owed to eurozone countries.