Euro zone loses patience with Greece

Sat Feb 4, 2012 6:38pm EST
 
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By Jan Strupczewski

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers told Greece on Saturday it could not go ahead with an agreed deal to restructure privately-held debt until it guaranteed it would implement reforms needed to secure a second financing package from the euro zone and the IMF.

Euro zone ministers had hoped to meet on Monday to finalize the second Greek bailout, which has to be in place by mid-March if Athens is to avoid a chaotic default. But the meeting was postponed because of Greek reluctance to commit to reforms.

Instead, the ministers held a conference call on Saturday to take stock of progress on the second financing package, which euro zone leaders set at 130 billion euros back in October.

"There was a very clear message that was conveyed from all participants of the teleconference ... to the Greeks that enough is enough," one euro zone official said. "There is a great sense of frustration that they are dragging their feet.

"They should get their act together and start talking honestly, decisively and speedily with the Troika on the aspects of the programme that remain to be finalized - on fiscal and labor market reforms," the official said.

The Troika are the representatives of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, who have prepared a Greek debt sustainability analysis on which the second financing programme will be based.

"The main issue is the lack of reform, or prior action, in Greece," a second euro zone official said.

Euro zone ministers were also dissatisfied with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos because they believed the minister was paying more attention to his position within his party ahead of the April elections, than to talks about reforms.   Continued...

 
<p>Greece's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos makes statements outside his office in Athens February 4, 2012. Greece has agreed with euro zone partners on how to recapitalise Greek banks after a planned bond swap, but has yet to resolve issues related to labour reform and spending cuts in talks with lenders, the country's finance minister said on Saturday.REUTERS/Yiorgos Karahalis</p>