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Europeans leave little wiggle room for renegotiation

A European diplomat based in Berlin has told Kathimerini that there is little appetite in the German government or parliament to renegotiate Greece’s fiscal adjustment program and provide Athens with more time to meet its targets and more loans to cover its funding gaps in the meantime.

“Time is money and the German government cannot give more money to Greece, which means that it cannot give more time either,” said the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

The diplomat suggested that Berlin would be willing to hold talks about the bailout terms with the next Greek government if it is committed to the fiscal adjustment. “We can discuss matters with a government that intends to meet the commitments Greece has taken on, even if this is using different methods, as long as it is also reliable.”

The position adopted by the official matches views expressed in other parts of Europe.

“The headline targets cannot be changed,” one senior EU official told Reuters. “There could be some tweaks to the path to get there, but not the goals.”

“If the Greeks do not meet the commitments they have made, do not meet their financial commitments, do not repay loans, Slovakia will demand that Greece leaves the eurozone,” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told his country’s parliament, although he said Europe should strive to keep Greece in.

A German EU official told Reuters regardless of who wins the Greek vote, a new government would be given a final chance. “There will be a very clear 100-day plan for a new government. If it’s not implemented in full, then the game is over,” the official said. “This is a very bitter election for the Greek people. They are being asked to support the old guard that got them into this mess.”

The International Monetary Fund would not be drawn on what might happen after the elections on Sunday.

“I think we need to take this one step at a time,” said IMF spokesman Gerry Rice. “I think we should respect the democratic process in Greece and once there is a new government, the IMF will engage in a new dialogue with the new government.”

ekathimerini.com , Thursday June 14, 2012 (22:23)  
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