Germany ready to discuss giving Greeks more time on reforms
(BERLIN) - Germany is ready to discuss giving Greece more time to attain the objectives under its EU-IMF bailout agreement, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Sunday.
"There can't be substantial changes in the engagements" undertaken by Greece in the bailout deal. "But I can imagine we discuss again a delay" in achieving the targets, he said on Germany's ARD public television.
The job, spending and wage cuts required under the 130 billion euro ($165 billion) bailout in a country suffering its fifth year of recession were a key issue in the Sunday's Greek parliamentary election, with all parties calling for a relaxation of the terms if not outright cancellation of the deal.
Germany has been one of the most hardline eurozone nations and insisted that Greeks have to implement the agreed deal if they want the bailout funds needed to keep the country from going bankrupt and possibly exiting the euro.
A first official estimate said the conservative New Democracy party won the election and will be able to form a pro-bailout majority with the socialist PASOK party.
But even New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras has called for the terms of the bailout deal to be revised.
Westerwelle, who spoke before pro-bailout parties took the lead, said increased flexibility was justified by the delay caused by the political paralysis the country had experienced.
"Normal citizens shouldn't be victims, notably those which have already supported drastic cuts," he said.
While Germany is ready to show solidarity "what we cannot accept is that engagements taken are considered annulled", said Westerwelle.
The anti-austerity leftist Syriza party, which placed second, had vowed to tear up he European Union and the International Monetary Fund bailout deal that has given Greece a credit lifeline in exchange for harsh spending cuts.
"There is no other road but reforms," said Westerwelle.
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