Germany, France strive for returning Greece back to table

European countries, most notably Germany and France pressure over Greece to return to negotiation table by focusing on reforms demanded by international creditors

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The leaders of Germany and France suggested Greek government on Friday to focus on political and financial reforms which became the most important topic of the debt negotiations between Greece and its international creditors.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande pledged help to the newly-elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, but suggested him to focus on the technical-level talks with the so-called "Brussels Group" consisting of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

"It was a very friendly, constructive exchange, but it's also clear that there must be more work with the three institutions. There is a lot to do," Merkel told reporters on the sidelines of EU’s Eastern Partnership summit in the Latvian capital, Riga on Friday.

Merkel stated that Germany and France have been supporting Greece whenever it needs, but underlined the need for more institutional change and will of reform management which the Tsipras-led Syriza government had to carry out in the debt negotiations.

"The conclusion needs to be found with the three institutions and there needs to be very, very intensive work." Merkel said.

Greece’s left-wing Syriza Party could have so far not agreed on a number of issues, such as debt restructuring, a lower target for the primary surplus to take in more than it spends apart from debt interest payments, and a pledge to make no further cuts to pensions or wages.

All of those issues were said to be Athen’s red lines which the Greek side seemed reluctant not to abandon during the several months of debt negotiations.

Greece has been negotiating with its creditors over the past four months about the release of some 7.2 billion euros in aid.

French President Hollande also reiterated the necessity of reforms by acknowledging Greece's dire financial situation as its cash runs out ahead of the repayment schedule with the IMF approaching.

"Everyone knows the deadline, because it'll be around June 6 or 7 that Greece will need liquidity to meet certain repayments," Hollande said.

"That doesn't mean that other phases cannot be prepared but what interests the Chancellor and I is what responses Greece can make to release the funds which would give Greece the means to pay the amounts it owes in June." he added.

Greek government keeps its optimism about the future of debt talks and assumes it could strike a deal in as little as 10 days before the next IMF payment that falls due on June 5.

"We think conditions have matured for [talks] to progress further and in the next 10 days, in May, for the deal to be sealed," Greek government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Skai TV.

Tsipras himself also said in the Riga summit that he was "very optimistic" about reaching soon a "long-term, sustainable and viable solution without the mistakes of the past."

Athens is heavily indebted to the EU and the IMF, almost 240 billion euros, since the eurozone economic crisis seriously hit the country’s economy from 2009 to the present.

Before the general election, Tsipras’ Syriza Party had vowed to terminate the EU’s unilateral financial acts over Greece, but in reality the Syriza Party has so far continued to review Greece’s financial stability in order to get new bailout money from the Union.

The EU however entails the maintenance of financial-economic reforms if the Syriza government in Greece wants to get more loans from the EU creditors.

Talks between the parties have slowed down as Tsipras-Varoufakis leadership was resisted to cut money in pensions and labour reforms that would clash with the pre-election Syriza campaign pledges to end austerity measures which were disturbing Greek people whose lives have been heavily affected by the ongoing financial-economic crisis.


TRTWorld and agencies