Tsipras promises Greece will keep its word amid German spat

Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:36pm EDT
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By Ingrid Melander and Angeliki Koutantou

PARIS/ATHENS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to reassure euro zone partners on Thursday that Greece would stick to an extended bailout agreement with its international creditors even as a war of words rumbled on between Athens and Berlin.

Tsipras used a visit to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an inter-governmental think-tank, to make his case for a long-term restructuring of Greece's debt while promising to implement agreed reforms.

"There is no reason for concern... even if there is no timely disbursement of a (loan) tranche, Greece will meet its obligations," he told reporters.

"We are here in order for the OECD to put its stamp on the reforms that the Greek government wants to push on with and I believe that this stamp in our passport will be very significant to build mutual trust with our lenders."

His soothing words contrasted to the tone of recrimination between Greece and Germany over austerity, relations between their finance ministers and demands for reparations over the World War Two Nazi occupation of Greece.

Greece submitted a formal protest to the German Foreign Ministry, accusing Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble of having insulted his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis, further eroding a relationship that has been strained by Berlin's tough stance on the Greek debt crisis.

Schaeuble denied having called Varoufakis "foolishly naive", as reported by some Greek media, telling Reuters it was "nonsense" to say he had insulted the Greek minister.

Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Constantinos Koutras told Reuters the complaint was about the general tone of Schaeuble's remarks, questioning data presented by Greece and doubting its willingness to meet its commitments.   Continued...

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras leaves after delivering a speech at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters in Paris March 12, 2015. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer