Bloomberg News

Schaeuble Says Greek Program Unnegotiable, Help Possible

May 15, 2012

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the adjustment program set up to stabilize Greece’s debt isn’t debatable and is not being negotiated though bilateral measures can be taken to help the country.

Euro-region finance ministers meeting in Brussels yesterday didn’t discuss whether the program’s “architecture” can be changed, Schaeuble told reporters after European Union finance ministers met today.

“The fundamental question the second program for Greece is about -- namely to spare Greece’s financial system, as a part of the common European monetary union, access to financial markets for some time and at the same time help it to return to financial markets at some point in time on the basis of sustainable growth -- is agreed and not negotiable in its economic parts, and isn’t being negotiated,” he said. “If we can help with additional, bilateral measures, that’s an entirely different question.”

Greece will hold new elections after President Karolos Papoulias failed to broker creation of a government following an inconclusive May 6 vote, Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said today. The impasse has reignited concern the country will renege on pledges to cut spending as required by the terms of its two bailouts negotiated since May 2010 and, ultimately, leave the euro area.

Difficult Situation

The political deadlock makes Greece’s economic situation “difficult,” Schaeuble said. Greece’s EU partners can only await the outcome of the political process, he said.

“The people in Greece must know, and those carrying responsibility must say it, that what’s been agreed and set in motion for Greece was an extraordinary effort by all Europeans and the international community,” Schaeuble said. “All those involved are ready and determined to do everything possible to implement this. But for that we need, of course, a government in Greece that can act and we need the support in Greece’s parliament.”

Most Greeks want the government to stick to its current financial-aid plan and 81 percent want to keep the euro, an opinion poll indicated. The survey was conducted on May 10-11 and no margin of error was given.

“If Greece, and this is the will of the great majority, wants to stay in the euro, then they have to accept the conditions,” Schaeuble told reporters before leaving Brussels. “Otherwise it isn’t possible. No responsible candidate can hide that from the electorate.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rainer Buergin in Brussels at rbuergin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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