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Griechenland EU Fahne vor dem Parlament in Athen
Image: picture-alliance/R. Geiss

Euro ministers skeptical of Greek proposal

July 11, 2015

Finance ministers have met to evaluate a last-ditch bailout proposal from Greece. The reforms suggested are similar to those rejected at the last-weeks referendum and talks and there's no easy solution, ministers say.


Arriving for the Saturday talks in Brussels, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble warned that there was no "easy outcome" in sight for the bailout row.

"We will have extremely difficult negotiations," Schäuble said, adding that the numbers on Greece were "terribly bad," and rejecting Athens calls for reducing or rescheduling of debt.

"We know that under the EU treaties it is not possible to have debt forgiveness," he said.

Ministers and other officials from the 19 eurozone nations were set to discuss Athens' latest reform proposals, which were approved by the Greek parliament earlier on Saturday. The new document includes plans for pension overhaul, tax hikes and privatizations. A third bailout for Greece is estimated to cost some 80 billion euros ($89 billion).

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament it was a "national duty to keep our people alive... we will succeed not only in staying in Europe but in living as equal peers with dignity and pride."

He added that the deal was "marginally better" than proposals put forward by the creditors last month.

'Issue of trust'

On the other hand, Dutch State Secretary Eric Wiebes pointed to the parallels between the latest proposal by the Greek government and the demands recently put forward by Greece's international lenders.

"We are discussing a proposal that is very similar to the proposal that was rejected massively less than a week ago," said Wiebes, ahead of the meeting in Brussels.

Wiebes represents the Netherlands in the meeting, as the country's finance minister, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, is also president of the Eurogroup.

Both Wiebes and Dijsselbloem expressed concerns over Athens' commitment to reform.

"There is a major issue of trust - can the Greek government be trusted to do what they are promising in coming weeks, months and years?" Dijsselbloem said on Saturday.

'Green light' for Sunday

This sentiment was echoed by Austrian Finance Minister Hans Jörg Schelling, who put a chance for a new bailout deal at 60 percent, pending guarantees that Tsipras' government would implement the proposed reforms.

"For five years, we have experienced such [reform] lists being transmitted, but the implementation of the measures never occurred," he said.

At the same time, Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan pointed out that the meeting's purpose was "not about striking a deal tonight."

"We're here with an open mind to reach a green light, an OK, for tomorrow's negotiations," he said, referring to the 28-nation EU summit on Greece set for Sunday.

Previously, European Council President Donald Tusk has said the EU leaders meeting he is to host in Brussels Sunday is the "last chance" for Greece and the EU to seal a deal that could keep Greece from leaving the eurozone.

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

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