Euro zone ministers, officials comment on Greece

By @ibtimes on

Euro zone finance ministers and officials were meeting on Thursday to discuss a second financial bailout package for Greece, after leaders in Athens clinched a long-stalled deal on reforms and austerity measures.

Following are comments by ministers and officials ahead of the talks:

EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OLLI REHN

I am sure that this staff level agreement will tonight be thoroughly scrutinised by the finance ministers of the euro area member states.

I think we will have a very thorough discussion and it's now up to the Greek government and parliament to convince its European partners through a strong commitment and concrete actions in terms of ensuring fiscal consolidation and structural reforms.

...It's up to the Greek government to provide concrete actions through legislation and other actions to convince its European partners that a second programme can be made to work.

AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER MARIA FEKTER ON AGREEMENT WITH GREECE:

The Greeks will vote in a few weeks and by then we want to guarantee that even after the election, no matter what constellation they will have, that the deal sticks.

ON SECOND GREEK PACKAGE:

The Greeks still have to do their homework from the previous package before we agree on a new package, the new package has austerity measures on the one hand and privatisation on the other hand, so the economy can grow a bit better, that they can build up their exports, that the daily running of the government is better.

On the individual measures, we do expect monthly progress so that Greece can get back on its feet all by itself.

GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE

ON RESULTS SO FAR:

We have come very far, but we are still not far enough. But I think it's good that we have a intermediate results and that we tell Greece and Greece's negotiating partners clearly what the conditions for a second bailout are and that's what we will do tonight.

You don't need to wait around because there will be no decision (tonight).

ON GREEK COMMITMENTS:

Greece has to implement what it has not implemented from the first programme before we can decide on a second.

We will hold our talks now, but as far as I know we still don't have the conditions that were clearly required by the council (of EU leaders).

ON SECOND PROGRAMME:

We need a programme that, on top of the prior actions Greece should have taken, will reduce Greece debt-to-GDP ratio to 120 percent by 2020 and does not exceed the upper limit of what Europe can afford - that's 100 billion euros, plus 30 billion euros in sweeteners.

We will certainly not discuss a top-up, as we are negotiating within the mandate that heads of state and government have given us.

EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

I don't think that we will have a definitive and final decision tonight. We have to discuss several elements of the proposals that will be submitted to us....

This is not a disaster, the debate has to be ended.

GREEK FINANCE MINISTER EVANGELOS VENIZELOS

We are finally here. We have a staff level agreement with the (EU-IMF) Troika for a new, strong and credible programme. We have also a deal with the private creditors on the basic parameters of the PSI (private bondholder losses).

We need now the political endorsement of the Eurogroup, for the final steps.

IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE

There is clearly some very encouraging news coming out of Athens and ... after the very heavy duty work that has been done lately, I think it's positive.

IRISH FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL NOONAN

The contagion effect of the crisis in Greece is factored into bond prices in Ireland. A Greek resolution would enable us to get back to the markets, as we expect to do, some time in the course of the year.

DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER JAN KEES DE JAGER

There will not be a final deal, but more importantly, we have to see first what the (EU-IMF) Troika has to report: a 'yes' or 'no', Greece has complied with all actions needed for the release of the second programme.

We did not see that yet, there are only announcements that they did so but we want to see real implementation of measures needed by the Greek government and also the full commitment of all leaders in Greece for future measures.

I want to hear from the EU-IMF Troika what has been discussed. From experience I know you must look very carefully to see if it all makes sense.

(Reporting by Claire Davenport, Jan Strupczewski, Robin Emmott, Marine Hass, Daniel Flynn and John O'Donnell; editing by Rex Merrifield)

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