European governments should give private creditors an incentive to participate in a new Greek bailout, but the choice should be voluntary and not trigger a credit event, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said.
Speaking to German television on Sunday before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Luxembourg, Schaeuble said parties negotiating on the package are not so far apart in their positions, and banks also wanted a solution.
Banks and financial investors have an interest in the problem being solved properly, he told broadcaster ARD. We need a voluntary solution, but that does not mean that we don't need incentive -- sticks and carrots as one would say.
It must be voluntary so that we do not trigger a credit event on financial markets, he added.
European heavyweights Germany and France say they have agreed on an outline on how to handle Greece's debt woes, in a move to resolve differences over how to involve private holders of Greek bonds in a new rescue package for Athens.
Germany sees a plan -- based on the 2009 Vienna Initiative by banks to voluntarily maintain exposures in Eastern Europe at the height of the financial crisis -- as a good foundation for a Greek deal.
Most economists are highly skeptical that Greece can ever repay its debt mountain, which has reached 340 billion euros ($480 billion) or 150 percent of the country's annual economic output.
Any Greek debt rollover would be complex and controversial, financially and legally, and key details have not been worked out. Euro zone finance ministers aim to find a solution, a temporary one at least, at the Luxembourg meeting.
Earlier, German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that Schaeuble intended to propose a compromise over the bailout to the European Central Bank, which has opposed private sector involvement in any new Greek aid.
On television, Schaeuble called the report -- described as a plan to get top-rated European bonds into the hands of Greek banks in order to ensure they can still borrow from the ECB -- rather nonsense.
It was taken from papers which were used somewhere, at some point, he said. Parts were cited, but the overall context is more complicated.
(Reporting by Brian Rohan)