Germany: Euro zone won't bow to Greek aid time pressure - paper

Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:04pm EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the troika of international lenders to Athens was unlikely to deliver a full report in time for Monday's euro zone finance ministers meeting and that talks over Greek budget controls continued.

Schaeuble echoed his recent comments about Greece in an interview with German paper Welt am Sonntag, published on the eve of the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels where the main topic will be unfreezing lending to Athens.

"At the moment it does not look as if we will have a finished, complete troika report on Monday, especially given that the Greek parliament is only agreeing the budget on Sunday," he said in the interview published on Sunday.

Greece passed a structural reform package in parliament on Wednesday and is to vote through an austerity budget for 2013 on Sunday.

However, time pressure for a deal is growing as Athens has to redeem 5 billion euros ($6.4 billion) worth of treasury bills on November 16 and has been counting on cash from the next euro zone aid tranche to help cover that.

"We in the Eurogroup and in the IMF want to help Greece but we will not let ourselves be put under pressure," the German finance minister told the newspaper.

"We are not responsible for the time pressure, all parties involved have been aware of this deadline for a long time," said Schaeuble.

"No one in the euro zone has a problem with agreeing to the payment of the next tranche, but only when the conditions have been fulfilled ... and that is up to the government in Athens."

The minister said the troika - the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank - had in the past made a "very optimistic" assessment of the situation in Greece, making him all the more keen for a realistic review this time around.   Continued...

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble delivers his speech during the "German Economic Forum", organized by German weekly newspaper "Die Zeit", in the St.Michaelis church in Hamburg, November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer