No new bailout needed if Greek debt restructured, says finance minister

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis insisted Saturday that Greece would not require a new bailout from its international creditors if they would simply restructure its debt.

Athens last week resumed talks with its creditors in a bid to unblock 7.2 billion euros ($8 billion) from its EU-IMF bailout before state coffers run dry.

But analysts believe that even if it manages to secure the last tranche of aid, Athens may have to obtain a new rescue package to stay afloat.

Varoufakis said however that Greece could do without a new bailout.

“One of the conditions for this to happen though, is an important restructuring of the debt,” he told the Efimerida ton Sindakton daily in an interview published Saturday.

The radical-left SYRIZA government came into power in January on a campaign promise that it would seek to get part of its debt written off.

However, its creditors – European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – have reiterated that that is impossible.

Varoufakis, whose negotiating style has grated his EU counterparts, also took a swipe at the eurozone in the interview, warning that if it “doesn’t change it will die.”

He added that “no country, not only Greece, should have joined such a shaky common monetary system.”

Nevertheless, Varoufakis said it was “one thing to say we shouldn’t have joined the euro and it is another to say that we have to leave” because backtracking now would lead to “an unforeseen negative situation.”

Asked about reported insults from fellow Eurogroup finance ministers during a tense meeting in Riga on April 24, Varoufakis was also dismissive.

Media reports said he had been branded a “gambler,” an “amateur” and an “adventurist” by his peers.

“Those would have surely been heavy offenses if they had been expressed. But they were not,” said Varoufakis.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had reshuffled the team handling negotiations with its creditors after relations between Varoufakis and the EU hit a new low during a stormy Eurogroup meeting in Riga last week.

Athens is struggling to pay salaries and pensions without the promised loans. Almost a billion euros in debt and interest is also due for repayment to the IMF by May 12.

Unless an agreement is reached to unlock the remaining EU-IMF bailout money, the debt-ridden country faces default and a possible exit from the euro.

Technical experts from the Eurogroup and the Greek delegation are due to be in contact all weekend, trying to resolve differences concerning sweeping reforms required by Brussels and the IMF to secure the package.


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