Berlin, Paris differ on chances of quick Greek deal
Germany and France voiced divergent views Wednesday on the chances of a quick deal between Greece and its creditors in talks on rival reform proposals to prevent Athens defaulting on its debt.
French President Francois Hollande said an accord on the Greek crisis was "days, even hours away," while Germany's veteran Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Athens' reform proposal initially confirmed his pessimism.
Eurozone powerhouses Paris and Berlin are key to efforts to find a way out of Greece's debt woes and ensuring it remains part of the single currency bloc, and their leaders have sought in recent days to provide a push in negotiations with Athens.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Wednesday that work towards a solution, including bilateral and trilateral efforts, were intensively underway.
She hosted Hollande and the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) for late-night talks on Greece's debt crisis Monday.
Hollande announced he would speak with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras and Merkel later Wednesday.
- 'Days, even hours' -
But speaking earlier almost at the same time in their respective capitals, Hollande and Schaeuble struck opposing tones on the prospects of Greece and its creditors reaching a swift deal, as the two sides were due to exchange their rival reform plans.
The aim is to reach an agreement that would finally unlock 7.2 billion euros ($8.0 billion) in vitally needed bailout funds for Athens after a four-month stand-off.
"We are days, even hours away from a possible resolution," Hollande said at an OECD conference, adding that "asking too much of Greece would prevent the return of growth... but asking nothing or not enough will affect the entire eurozone."
Schaeuble told reporters that he had heard some elements of the Greek plan, which "change nothing in my assessment to colleagues in Dresden. It rather confirms it."
At a G7 finance ministers' meeting in the eastern city of Dresden last week, Schaeuble had sought to play down assertions by Athens that Greece was on the verge of reaching a deal.
"The positive reports out of Athens don't fully reflect the state of talks," Schaeuble said at the time.
Earlier Wednesday German finance ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said he believed the Athens list of reforms "will not be the ultimate solution to the problem."
He said that an offer to Athens drawn up by the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB would, "for us, be the relevant basis for talks."
He also said that based on information in press reports, the mooted reforms by Greece were "unlikely to fulfil the (creditors') requirements in their entirety."
Tspiras was to meet European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels to present what aides say is his government's 46-page proposal to overhaul the Greek economy and meet the demands of its bailout.
The EU, IMF and ECB are widely understood to have their own plan that includes measures the Greek government has repeatedly baulked at over the past four months of fraught negotiations.
© 2015 AFP