German parliament supports extending Greece bailout

The German parliament Thursday backed plans to extend a credit programme for Greece, with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble voicing hope for a «happy ending» to Athens’ economic and political woes.

Greece, which has received EU-IMF bailouts since 2010, requires a two-month programme extension while creditors conclude a fiscal audit that will determine the release of the next 7.0 billion euros ($8.7 billion).

“This technical extension is necessary and justifiable,» Schaeuble told lawmakers, saying the extra time is needed for Athens to reach an agreement with its creditors to unlock the last instalment.

“Through its own efforts and our solidarity, Greece has made significant progress» Schaeuble said, pointing at structural reforms and encouraging economic indicators.

“A happy ending is possible within a reasonable timeframe.”

The Greek government only has the slenderest of parliamentary majorities and faces a growing challenge from the radical leftist party Syriza, which wants to end a four-year austerity drive and re-negotiate Greeces bailout.

The government brought forward presidential elections to this month from February, but failed to get its candidate elected in the first round Thursday, heightening concern about political turmoil ahead.

Schaeuble said backing from Germany now would help the effort of sending «as many stabilising signals as possible in this critical phase».

He also said that from Berlin’s point of view, «the agreed reforms must be implemented» and further efforts are needed.