Eurozone may tinker with Greek bailout terms
The eurozone will not tear up the main targets of Greece’s bailout no matter who wins Sunday’s elections, but it might consider giving a new government in Athens some leeway on how it reaches them, eurozone officials said on Thursday.
Even that offer would depend on a government being in place that was prepared to stick to the prescribed austerity path and some policymakers are reluctant to go even that far.
If Greece rejects the bailout deal it struck in February, all bets would be off and pressure would grow on it to quit the currency bloc.
“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.”
No Greek party has called for euro exit, but the leftist SYRIZA party, which is running neck-and-neck with conservative New Democracy party, rejects the stringent terms of the bailout, without which Greece will default.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras believes he can get much more favourable terms for Greece – a view EU leaders roundly reject.
“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 parliament on Thursday, although he said Europe should strive to keep Greece in.
A German EU official said 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.”