Friday, July 13, 2012

Germany Rejects Greek Plea for More Time

Spiegel
July 13, 2012

Earlier this week, Greek leaders suggested they would ask for more time to hit austerity targets demanded by their creditors. Germany, though, is opposed, according to Friday media reports. IMF head Christine Lagarde also said it is "premature to discuss extension."


The idea doesn't seem to have gone down well. On Thursday, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras indicated that the leaders of the three parties represented in the country's governing coalition had agreed to ask for more time to make billions in cuts that have been demanded in exchange for emergency international aid. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also said this week that he would request that the deadline be pushed back.

But on Friday, the response from Germany and elsewhere would seem to be a resounding no. Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said that "neither the content nor the timeframe of the memorandum are up for debate," using shorthand for the austerity agreement between Athens and its creditors. According to a report in Friday's Rheinische Post newspaper, the chancellor would consider a postponement of "a few weeks" at the most. The paper cites anonymous government sources.

The Chancellery was echoed by the other two parties in Merkel's governing coalition. Speaking to German public radio station Deutschlandfunk on Friday morning, Economy Minister Philipp Rösler, of the Free Democrats, said "I have the feeling that the troika's patience is slowly coming to an end," referring to the trio made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He also called into question whether Greece is even capable of being reformed to the degree necessary. "Our experience has, at the very least, made me skeptical," he said.

Alexander Dobrindt, general secretary of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's Christian Democrats, went even further. "From day to day, it is becoming more apparent that Greece only has a chance if it exits the euro," he told the daily Rheinische Post.

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