NEWS

Merkel stops talk of political solution to review

TAGS: Politics, Economy, Finance

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble blamed the Greek government Friday for the delay in the conclusion of the second review of the country’s third bailout.

“If Greece again and again does not do what it has committed to, eventually that will not work,” Schaeuble told a business meeting in Saarbruecken, western Germany.

His remarks came a day after his meeting with the International Monetary Fund’s European department director Poul Thomsen, which yielded no breakthrough on the debate over the primary surplus Greece must achieve.

The Eurogroup and Germany want Greece to achieve a 3.5 percent surplus, but the IMF official insists that this will be impossible to accomplish with the current measures in place, and that more are needed.

Given its analysis, the Washington-based Fund has argued that it will not join the Greek program if the country’s debt is not made sustainable.

Schaeuble, who is not sold on the need for substantial debt relief, has insisted that the IMF must be on board, and is pressuring Greece to accept its demands for measures that would make a 3.5 percent surplus feasible.

The German minister said the finger of blame shouldn’t be pointed at the European Central Bank for the Greek problem, but to a lack of a uniform economic policy in the eurozone.

“The ECB is not actually to blame for our problems – rather the problem is that the structure in the eurozone is such that we have a shared currency without a shared finance and economic policy and that the members – and the ECB never gets tired of saying this – aren’t doing what they committed to doing.”

For his part, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tried to figure out the intentions of leaders at an informal European Union summit in Malta Friday which took place ahead of a meeting of IMF directors on Monday.

However, despite Tsipras’s efforts to conduct what he described as “political negotiations” to break the deadlock in review talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated her position that Greece must stick to the agreements it has made with the institutions and complete the review as soon as possible.

Sources said Merkel showed understanding but stressed that her “hands were tied.”

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