NEWS

Greek debt-relief talks possible after vote, Germans say

Germany is leaving the door open to discussing debt relief with Greece’s next government, lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition said, signaling a more flexible stance than her administration has taken publicly.

While writing off Greek debt isn’t on the table, talks on easing the repayment terms on aid that Greece received from European governments are possible after the country’s parliamentary elections on Jan. 25, the lawmakers from Germany’s two biggest governing parties said. The condition is that Greece sticks to its austerity commitments, they said.

The potential opening reflects scenarios under discussion in Merkel’s coalition for how to respond if Greek voters oust Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, a Merkel ally who has enforced German-led demands for austerity, and elect anti-austerity leader Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party.

“There should be talks with any government that emerges from the election,” Ingrid Arndt-Brauer, a Social Democrat who chairs the lower house’s finance committee, said in an interview. “You can talk about extending maturities and easing the interest rate on loans with a left-wing government, too.”

A senior lawmaker from Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union said Germany will talk with any elected Greek government, including about an easing of aid conditions, as long as Greece doesn’t renege on its austerity commitments. The lawmaker asked not to be named because coalition discussions are private.

[Bloomberg]