More time for Greece 'not a solution': Germany's Schaeuble

23rd August 2012, Comments 0 comments

Giving Greece more time to implement necessary structural reforms and austerity measures would not solve its severe problems, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told public radio on Thursday.

"More time is not a solution to the problems," Schaeuble told SWR radio.

"More time would, in case of doubt, mean more money" and the eurozone had already gone to its very limits in hammering out the deal with Athens last year, the minister argued.

It was not an issue "of being more generous or less generous" but about finding a way for the eurozone as a whole to regain the confidence of the financial markets, Schaeuble argued.

In a newspaper interview Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called for more time to make spending cuts and reforms to unlock funds to keep the debt-wracked country afloat.

"All that we want is a little 'breathing space' to revive the economy quickly and raise state income. More time does not automatically mean more money," Samaras told the German daily Bild ahead of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday.

As part of a rescue package with its international creditors, Greece has committed to slashing some 11.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) from spending over two years from 2013.

Samaras reportedly wants to discuss extending that period to four years in his talks in Berlin and with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Saturday.

Berlin has insisted that there can be no wiggle room for Greece either in terms of the substance of the reforms and cuts it must make or in terms of the time it takes to achieve them.

A team of auditors from the so-called Troika -- the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank -- is due to report next month on whether Greece has done enough to unlock a further tranche of aid to stave off bankruptcy.

In his interview on Thursday, the German finance minister said the findings of that report would have to be made public first before deciding the way forward for Greece.

© 2012 AFP

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