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Berlin urges Greece to stay the course on reforms [Update]

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Friday urged Greece's conservative-led coalition to brave the political cost and stay the course on painful economic reforms.

“The work that is being done here is not just being done for Greece, but for Europe. I expressed my encouragement for this,” Steinmeir was quoted as saying after a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who is also the leader of socialist PASOK.

Steinmeier, who is in Athens on a two-day official visit, acknowledged that austerity policies mandated by Greece's foreign creditors were taking a toll on coalition partners PASOK and New Democracy.

“Both know the political risks that this path brings for their parties. But both are just as convinced that political reform process may not be abandoned,” Steinmeier said according to reports.

New ambassador

Meanwhile, reports Friday said that Wolfgang Dold will soon step down as German ambassador to Greece after serving two years in Athens. Dold will reportedly be succeeded by Peter Schoof, who is head of the European Union department at the German Foreign Office.

Unknown gunmen opened fire at Dold's residence in the suburb of Halandri, just north of Athens, on December 30. No one was injured in the raid.

'Yannis, forget it'

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Financial Times on Thursday Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said that he came under pressure from IMF managing director Christine Lagarde and the head of the fund's mission in Greece Poul Thomsen to ask eurozone leaders to accept a haircut on their bailout loans, but such move was ruled out by German Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

“Poul and Lagarde said I had to [stand] by their side,” Stournaras said in an interview with the British newspaper.

“I said: ‘OK, but if I come by your side, it is what would really help Greece, but it’s something which is totally out of the question.’ Schaeuble told me: ‘Yannis, forget it.’ So it cannot be done, so what can I do?”, Stournaras told the FT.

It was not clear when the conversation between the two ministers took place.

ekathimerini.com , Friday Jan 10, 2014 (14:37)  
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