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Schäuble warns investors on Greek restructure

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Sunday evening Greece could be granted an extension to the repayment of its massive debt but only if private creditors are also involved.

Schäuble warns investors on Greek restructure
Photo: DPA

In an interview with ARD public television, Schäuble insisted on waiting for the results of an examination of Greek public accounts next month before deciding if new measures were required.

But if they prove necessary, “a central point will be avoided (…) to relieve private creditors at the expense of the taxpayer”.

“We must have a clear rule: if there is a rescheduling (of the debt), all credit must be rescheduled,” he said.

Officials from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank are examining Greek finances and the progress of an austerity programme imposed as a condition of last year’s international bailout. They will report back in June.

The €110 billion rescue in spring 2010 was the first of three European rescues, followed by Ireland and Portugal.

However, a severe recession has complicated Athens’ efforts to bring its finances in order.

Greece was expected to return to the financial markets next year but it appears unlikely and there is speculation that it will need further financial assistance.

The German daily Die Welt reported Saturday that the EU Commission, the IMF and Germany were calling for Greece to reschedule its massive debt burden, due to a deteriorating situation.

Citing unnamed sources, Die Welt said the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Union executive arm and the government in Berlin believed prolonging the repayment terms on some loans to Greece has become the least worst option to save the country from defaulting.

However the European Central bank and France remain opposed to any such debt restructuring, the article added.

EU Commission spokesman on economic affairs Amadeu Altafaj dismissed the report as “absurd”.

“A restructuring of Greek debt is out of the question,” he told AFP.

Speculation has mounted in recent days that Greece will need an additional €60 billion over the next two years as it won’t be able to return to financial markets next year as expected to re-finance its massive debt.

Eurozone and EU finance ministers are expected to discuss Greece at meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

AFP/djw

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ANGELA MERKEL

German war crime payments debated in Greece

Greece's parliament on Wednesday began a debate on a resolution to demand the payment of German war crime reparations, an issue long disputed by Berlin.

German war crime payments debated in Greece
Angela Merkel and Alexis Tsipras in Greece in January. Photo: DPA

“These demands are always active. They were never set aside by Greece,” parliament chairman Nikos Voutsis told reporters this week.

The chamber is expected to approve later Wednesday, with cross-party support, a resolution calling on the government of Premier Alexis Tsipras “to take all the necessary diplomatic and legal steps to claim and fully satisfy all the demands of the Greek state stemming from World War I and World War II”.

A parliamentary committee last year determined that Germany owes Greece at least €270 billion for World War I damages and looting, atrocities and a forced loan during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Reclaiming war reparations has been a campaign pledge by Tsipras since 2015. He faces multiple electoral challenges this year, with his party trailing in polls.

'Historical responsibility'

During a visit to Greece in January, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country “recognised its historical responsibility.”

SEE ALSO: Merkel says Germany recognizes responsibility for Nazi war crimes in Greece

“We recognize our historical responsibility. We know how much suffering we, as Germany in the time of Nazism, have brought to Greece,” she said.

In 2014, ex-president Joachim Gauck had also sought public forgiveness in the name of Germany from relatives of those murdered by the Nazis in the mountains of northern Greece.

But when it comes to actual payments, the German government has always insisted that the issue was settled in 1960 in a deal with several European governments.

Germany's government spokesman Steffen Seibert reiterated Wednesday that “the reparation issue is judicially and politically settled”. 

He said Berlin is doing “everything it can so Greece and Germany maintain good relations as friends and partners”. 

During the Greek economic crisis, there was further tension in Athens over draconian EU austerity and bailout terms seen to be imposed by Berlin hardliners.

Relations have improved over the last three years after Tsipras' government endorsed conditions linked to satisfying its creditors.

Tsipras and Merkel also worked closely on finding common ground on migration and Balkans security.

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