Euro zone leaders: Greece must do more to earn rescue

Sun Jul 12, 2015 5:04pm EDT
 
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By Renee Maltezou and Andreas Rinke

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone leaders told near-bankrupt Greece at an emergency summit on Sunday it must enact key reforms this week to restore trust before they will open talks on a financial rescue to keep it in the European currency area.

Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will be required to push legislation through parliament to convince his 18 partners in the euro zone to release immediate funds to avert a state bankruptcy and start negotiations on a third bailout program estimated at up to 86 billion euros ($95.5 billion).

Six sweeping measures including tax and pension reforms must be enacted by Wednesday night and the entire package endorsed by parliament before talks can start, a draft decision by Eurogroup finance ministers sent to the leaders showed.

The document included a German proposal to make Greece take a "time-out" from the euro zone if it fails to meet the conditions. But not all ministers endorsed the idea, which a senior EU source said was illegal and would not survive in the summit statement.

Tsipras said on arrival in Brussels he wanted "another honest compromise" to keep Europe united.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is the biggest contributor to euro zone bailouts, said the conditions were not yet right to start negotiations, sounding cautious in deference to mounting opposition at home to more aid for Greece.

"The most important currency has been lost and that is trust," she told reporters. "That means that we will have tough discussions and there will be no agreement at any price."

If Greece meets the conditions, the German parliament would meet on Thursday to mandate Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to open the talks on a new loan. Then Eurogroup finance ministers would meet again on Friday or at the weekend to formally launch the negotiations.   Continued...

 
(L-R) Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, France's President Francois Hollande and Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel attend an euro zone leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 12, 2015.  REUTERS/Francois Lenoir