Greece must stick to eurozone plan: Germany's Schaeuble
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble insisted Monday that Greece needed to stick to its bailout plan obligations regardless of its domestic turmoil.
"Whatever will happen, Greece has to stick to what has been agreed. With a new government, with an old government, with new elections or a referendum or not," Schaeuble told a 'Future of Europe' conference at Tampere University in southwestern Finland.
His comments came as Greece tried to form a new cross-party government a week after outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou enraged European leaders with a shock announcement to put the latest debt-bailout package to a referendum and then hastily dropped the plan.
The European Union and especially the eurozone "can always help to give some assistance to help (the Greeks) help themselves," said Schaeuble, who was flanked by Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen.
"We can bide time for them but to regain their sustainability, to regain their competitiveness, that has to be delivered by Greece in one way or another," he said.
He stressed though that eurozone leaders needed to "pay respect to the burden the Greek people have to take. It is not fair what is going on in the Greek society ... but we can't avoid it."
Speaking ahead of a eurozone finance minister meeting in Brussels Monday evening, Schaeuble also insisted on the need for rapid and far-reaching reforms across the single currency bloc.
"Europe moves forward one step at a time ... There is a time for small steps and there is a time for bold steps and the time for bold steps is now," he said, emphasising the need for tight coordination between member states' budgetary and fiscal policies.
"Governments in the euro area need to commit to fiscal consolidation and improve competitiveness and governance. They have to deliver and they will," he said.
"We have to find a way and means to reconcile a member's fiscal and economic policies with its responsibility for the eurozone stability," he added.
Schaeuble also insisted on the need for tighter control of financial markets.
"We need to create the conditions for lasting and sustainable growth ... Steady, environmentally friendly, socially compatible growth propelled by the industry and productivity of the real economy and not by an overleveraged financial sector," he said.
Katainen and Urpilainen meanwhile said the debt crisis was less due to an inherent problem in the EU and eurozone and had more to do with the fact that so many eurozone members had failed to adhere to the rules and treaties they had agreed to.
"Finland supports all changes that make the rules more credible," Katainen said.
Urpilainen stressed that any changes needed to be fair and give credit to those countries, such as Finland, who had largely played by the book.
"We need to find solutions that won't weaken those who have done their job and followed the rules," she said.
© 2011 AFP