Isolated Greece wants no more bailout money with strings

Fri Feb 6, 2015 3:57pm EST
 
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By Lefteris Papadimas and Jan Strupczewski

ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Greece's new leftist-led government, isolated in the euro zone and under pressure from the European Central Bank, said on Friday it wanted no more bailout money with strings attached from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Instead, a government official said, it wanted authority from the euro zone to issue more short-term debt, and to receive profits that the European Central Bank and other central banks have gained from holding Greek bonds.

The official said Greece was in effect asking for a "bridge agreement" to keep state finances running until Athens can present a new debt and reform programme, "not a new bailout, with terms, inspection visits, etc.".

"It is ... necessary that Greece is given the possibility to issue T-bills, beyond the (current) 15 billion euro threshold, in order to cover any extra needs," said the official, asking not be named.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis returned empty-handed from a tour of European capitals in which even left-leaning governments in France and Italy insisted Greece must stick to commitments made to the European Union and IMF and rejected any debt write-off.

The Athens official made clear that the new government, which came to power on a wave of anti-austerity anger in elections last month, now wanted to forego remaining bailout money that had austerity strings attached:

"Greece is not asking for the remaining tranches of the current bailout programme - except the 1.9 billion euros that the ECB and the EU member states' central banks must return."

Euro zone finance ministers will discuss how to proceed with financial support for Athens at a special session next Wednesday ahead of the first summit of EU leaders with the new Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, the following day.   Continued...

 
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble (L) address a news conference following talks at the finance ministry in Berlin February 5, 2015. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch