By Nikos Chrysoloras
Greece will not have solved all of its problems by next year and will consequently not be able to return to the money markets, so “it is realistic to say Greece will require further support,” Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem told the European Parliament’s Financial Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The Dutch politician reiterated that the eurozone has committed itself to lending its support to Greece for as long as it takes until the country returns to the market, but stressed that despite its progress, “it is clear Greece will not have resolved all of its problems” by the end of the support program in 2014.
He said it is too early to speak of “the size, character and conditions of the additional support,” adding that “I did not speak about a new loan.” Sources close to Dijsselbloem later told Kathimerini that this “additional support” refers to Eurogroup decisions from last November and that no one is considering new loans at this stage.
Asked in Athens to comment on Dijsselbloem’s statements, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said: “It is still far too early to talk of a new program of assistance to the country. We still have one whole year ahead of us. In July 2014 the issue will be on the table.”
The Eurogroup head also said that the discussion on the financing gap of the current program will begin in October and is expected to be completed by November, while any decisions on improving the sustainability of the Greek debt are forwarded to April, when it will have been confirmed whether the Greek budget for 2013 has closed with a primary surplus.
European Central Bank Governor Mario Draghi confirmed in a press conference on Thursday in Frankfurt that a new program will likely come with additional conditions. However the Italian banker ruled out a reduction to the value of the Greek bonds that the ECB holds, as that would constitute “direct funding of a member state,” which is forbidden.