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Berlin calls for 'clarity' ahead of new talks on Greece

Athens needs to "finally" conduct serious negotiations with its lenders, Steffen Kampeter from the German finance ministry has said. Eurozone representatives are set to discuss Greece's new reform plans on Monday.

Finance State Secretary Steffen Kampeter, a deputy to minister Wolfgang Schäuble, called for swift progress as eurozone finance ministers meet to discuss Greek debt plans in Brussels on Monday. He pointed out that negotiations with the so-called "institutions" (formerly the "troika") - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - had not even started yet.

In an interview with German public radio station Deutschlandfunk, the politician from the ruling CDU party called for more "clarity" when it comes to reform plans and the financial situation in Greece.

"Greece now needs to finally negotiate and have serious talks with the Troika. It's not enough to exchange non-committal letters," he said.

The Eurogroup finance ministers are expected to discuss the latest reform proposal from Athens, which the Greek government hopes will help in procuring more financial aid.

However, Kampeter doesn't expect fresh aid for Greece to be approved so soon.

"It makes relatively little sense to seriously judge individual measures using unclear data," he said in connection with Athens' seven-point proposal submitted in writing on Friday.

"It's not as if eurozone finance ministers are asking for something from Greece, it's the Greek authorities asking for more financing from Europe," Kampeter said, adding that the conditions needed to be met.

Amateurs against tax dodgers

The Greek government needs to reach an agreement with the Eurogroup and the institutions in order to access 7.2 billion euros (currently 7.8 billion dollars) left in its bailout. Authorities in Athens sent an updated list of reforms to Brussels on Friday, saying it wanted to start negotiating with lenders immediately, including a possible follow-up deal.

The proposed measures list strategies to streamline bureaucracy, collect revenue from online gambling, and recruit amateur tax-inspectors, including students, housekeepers and tourists, to crack on down on tax evasion. The amateur tax sleuths are meant to pose as customers while secretly recording potential tax dodgers.

Risks of collapse

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem told a Dutch newspaper on Monday that the Greeks would still need to add to the proposals submitted on Friday.

"Of the 20 measures that the Greeks had to take, they have presented six," Dijsselbloem told de Volkskrant. "It will be a long process."

Over the weekend, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on the EU to recognize the risks of the Greek crisis.

"We must be sure that the situation does not continue to deteriorate in Greece. What worries me is that not everyone in the European Union has understood how serious the situation is," Juncker told Germany's Welt am Sonntag paper on Sunday.

dj/msh (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)

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