NEWS

Outgoing EWG chief says Greece may get debt relief with conditions attached

ELENI VARVITSIOTIS

TAGS: Politics, Economy

Greece could receive debt relief but with terms attached when its bailout program is concluded in August, according to the outgoing chief of the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG), Thomas Wieser.

In an interview in Sunday’s Greek edition of Kathimerini, Wieser said that despite there being no discussion about post-bailout arrangements, he expects that debt relief would be granted conditionally.

“If there should be further debt relief after the end of the program then it’s only logical there will be some kind of additional agreements.”

His comments imply there will be no clean exit from the bailout program as envisioned in the government’s narrative.

Greece’s post-bailout status was raised at last week’s EWG meeting in Brussels where, according to sources, the taboo issue of Greece debt relief was raised.

It was noted in the meeting that if there is to be debt relief, then questions regarding Greece’s post-bailout framework have to be addressed.

According to EU regulations, bailout countries including Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus – as well as Greece in the near future – will be monitored until 75 percent of their loans have been repaid. This means in Greece’s case that it will be monitored until 2060.

Wieser added that one of Greece’s biggest problems, which remains unresolved despite eight years of fiscal adjustment programs, is that it doesn’t lure foreign investments like other countries.

“I still have the feeling that foreign direct investment is not welcomed in Greece as it is in many other countries,” Wieser said. While adding that he has the feeling that many domestic rules and regulations over the last eight years have indeed changed, he bemoaned the fact that investments have not picked up.

“I think it’s only very recently that international and national investors trust that Greece is finally approaching the time where it can stand on its own feet again financially and that it is not a huge risk to invest in its economy,” he said, adding that one of the main reasons that investors have been reluctant to do business in Greece is its justice system.

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