Germany 'not ready to write blank cheque' for Greece: minister
Germany is "not ready to write a blank cheque" for Greece, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Sunday, after debt-stricken Athens appealed for an EU and IMF bailout.
His comments came despite warnings from the head of the International Monetary Fund that speed was of the essence if a Greek bailout is to soothe money markets, after Germany earlier stressed it has the right to reject Athens' call.
"We are not ready to write a blank cheque," Westerwelle told the ZDF television channel.
"It is not at all agreed that Greece will actually receive aid from Europe.... There will only be aid if there is no other way of stabilising our common currency," he added.
Greece appealed Friday for 45 billion euros (60 billion dollars) of unprecedented help from the European Union and the IMF to grapple with its dire debt crisis.
Germany, the biggest economic power in the 16-nation eurozone, would likely be asked to contribute around 8.4 billion euros to any rescue package.
Westerwelle said the German government was "convinced that European taxpayers cannot be responsible for the errors of national governments."
"We have a responsibility to our taxpayers," he added.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also underlined that Germany could yet refuse Greece's plea for emergency loans.
"The fact that neither the European Union nor the German government has taken a decision means: it could be positive or negative," he told the mass-selling Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview published Sunday.
The European Commission said on Sunday that Germany would be within its rights if it chooses to block the Greek bail-out deal.
Germany has previously said that the rescue deal should only go ahead if the security of the euro is at risk and if Greece comes up with a full plan for economic austerity measures.
The issue is not without political ramifications in Germany with a key regional election looming on May 9. Opinion surveys have shown that bailing out Greece is unpopular with the voters.
© 2010 AFP