Greek president to Germany: Don’t let election affect stance on debt


Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos urged German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble not to let domestic politics influence his decision on providing debt relief to Greece.

Pavlopoulos told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published Friday that Greece had implemented pension cuts and tax reforms as promised, and Germany should also keep its promises and approve some debt relief.

"I appeal to Wolfgang Schaeuble not to let the German election influence his decision [on debt relief]. This is about something bigger; it's about Europe," the Greek president said.

Greece this week urged European lenders to offer incentives that would boost growth and help break an impasse between the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund on the size of relief the country needs to make its debt sustainable.

During a meeting of eurozone finance ministers last month, Greece, its eurozone lenders and the IMF failed to agree on the debt relief measures to be implemented after its current bailout expires in 2018, mainly because of different growth assumptions. They are now aiming for a deal at a June 15 Eurogroup meeting.

Germany and some other European countries are worried that any concessions could affect the pace of economic reforms in Greece and want any debt relief put off until 2018. The IMF has said it will not participate financially in the country's latest bailout unless the issue is clearly addressed.

Pavlopoulos told Die Welt he had worked closely with Schaeuble when they were both interior ministers and believed the German minister would find a way to enable some debt relief.

"I know that Mr. Schaeuble is a role model when it comes to sticking to the rules… Now my chance has come to demand that the German finance ministry sticks to the rules," he said. "Wolfgang Schaeuble is strict, but just, and that is why he will find a formula that allows us to reduce the mountain of debt."

He said Greece's request would not result in any problems for Germany, noting that German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democrats, junior partners in the ruling coalition, also believed Greece had lived up to its reform promises and was acting in good faith.

He said he did not believe that German voters would cast their election votes on the basis of Greece debt relief, noting that perhaps the German government should remind its citizens that Greece had made huge sacrifices to get a grip on the debt crisis, and it had not cost Germany a single euro.