Greece and its creditors have come to a compromise on the latest bailout package, paving the way for a second tranche payment. A small stopgap or real breakthrough? German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble speaks to DW.
DW: Wolfgang Schäuble, is the agreement reached today between Greece and its creditors just a small stopgap or do you see it as a real breakthrough?
Wolfgang Schäuble: It lies somewhere in between. Politically speaking we have an agreement on the main points, but clearly a lot of work still needs to be done on the technicalities. That's because there are still some discrepancies as to how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European institutions view Greece's economic development, which results in conflicting figures.
In the past, the IMF's estimates were always too pessimistic, but I hope the institutions find a solution as soon as possible that will work in Greece and Europe's interest - and I believe, or at least hope, that the political discussions will not need to be reopened.
Talks will soon need to resume on Greece's ability to repay its debts in the longer term and whether the IMF will be part of a future program. Are you optimistic?
Of course the program can only move ahead if the IMF is on board. It's part of the program. Otherwise, we and other member states would have to ask our respective parliaments for a mandate that allows us to negotiate a program without IMF. That would be completely absurd and cannot work.
Regarding debt repayment, that's where we come to these different sums and calculation methods. Of course, when trying to calculate how debt levels will develop up to the year 2070, these can lead to different conclusions.
But these don't solve the problems right now anyway. We first have to discern what Greece can and must do politically, and I hope that the institutions will therefore succeed in finding a technical solution.
People suggested in Brussels that when it came to Greece you were the one who was hard on the brakes. Did you release this handbrake today?
My foot was never on the brake. As you've seen during the talks, the political questions - the ones involving the ministers - are not the real problem. That's why it was a bit redundant for my colleague (Foreign Minister Sigmar) Gabriel to try to give the opposite impression during his speech today in Athens. But that had more to do with the upcoming German elections than his role as foreign minister.
Greece's third bailout program is scheduled to still run on for more than a year, up until the summer of 2018. Will there need to be a fourth bailout package afterwards?
No, the point of the program is for Greece to regain access to the financial markets so that it can meet its financial requirements just like other [EU] member states: by borrowing on the financial markets. That's precisely why Greece needs to implement the reforms so that it is on a sustainable path.
The interview was conducted by Bernd Riegert.