ECB’s Nowotny calls for more time to be given to Athens

European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny called Sunday for Greece to be given more time to sort out its finances, ahead of a eurozone meeting which will examine if the debt-wracked country should get two extra years to carry out reforms.

Nowotny, also Austria’s top central banker, stressed in the interview with national broadcaster ORF that a Greek bankruptcy or exit from the eurozone would have «very negative effects» on «jobs for example» and in particular on other southern European countries.

Without referring directly to Athens’s request for a two-year reprieve, Nowotny noted that Greece has «a long-term problem that is not solvable in two years and without outside help».

“Either we are ready to help over the long-term or there is a risk of collapse, with all of its consequences,» he said, adding that decisions have to be made quickly.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told parliament on Wednesday that the troika of creditors — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — have granted Athens two extra years to bring its deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product.

But officials at both the EU and the IMF were quick to make it clear that the troika had not yet reached any final deal with Athens.

The request is expected to be examined during Wednesday’s meeting of eurozone ministers and officials. [AFP]

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