Angela Merkel offers Greek PM Antonis Samaras no extra time on bailout

 

Angela Merkel reassured Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras today that she wanted his country to stay in the eurozone, but gave no sign of ceding to his pleas for more time to meet the tough terms of Athens' international bailout.

Samaras, who made clear he was asking Berlin and Paris for more "air" to implement the reforms rather than going cap in hand for more cash, promised to get results and to narrow Greece's "fiscal deficit and the deficit in confidence".

"We're not asking for more money. We're asking for breaths of air in this dive we are taking," Samaras told a joint news conference with Merkel.

But the most he got from the German chancellor was a promise "that we will not make premature judgments but will await reliable evidence", by which she meant the "troika" report by Greece's international creditors due this autumn.

Samaras is likely to get much the same response from French President Francois Hollande in Paris tomorrow.. Hollande and Merkel coordinated their stance on Greece over dinner in Berlin on yesterday evening.

Trying to emulate the "Merkozy" partnership under Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, the conservative Merkel and the Socialist French president showed a united front, insisting Greece must meet its targets before any new discussion of terms.

Merkel stuck doggedly today to her policy of deferring to the troika report from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, though she did say that she and Hollande were in no doubt they wanted Greece to stay in the single currency.

"Greece is part of the eurozone and I want Greece to remain part of the eurozone," Merkel said.

European shares and the euro weakened on Merkel's cautious response to Samaras and fading hopes of ECB action to prop up the bonds of struggling eurozone countries.

In a chilly welcome for Samaras in Berlin, Merkel's parliamentary leader Volker Kauder said "neither the time nor the content can be renegotiated" and added for good measure that a Greek exit "would be no problem for the euro".

One German paper said the finance ministry was studying the impact of a Greek exit while the populist daily Bild wanted the Greek leader to make a personal promise not to short change German taxpayers.

"Sign here, Herr Samaras!" said the paper, which like much of the German media has been taking a tough line on Greece.

The Greek prime minister complained about such media coverage, telling the news conference that this "cacophony" about his country leaving the euro made it impossible to launch the privatisations needed to restore fiscal balance in Greece.

"Would any business invest in euros in something if he thinks he will get back drachmas? Of course not," said Samaras.

Merkel said she reads the Greek press every day to see how the austerity measures she champions are received, but added that she could not do anything about German media coverage.

Their meeting follows a brief period of market optimism that Europe - and particularly the ECB - will finally come up with decisive action in a busy month of euro diplomacy in September to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.

With sources now saying Spain may be on the brink of a sovereign bailout as well, after a 100 billion-euro deal to help its banking sector, Europe and the IMF are keen to stress the importance of strict conditions for aid.

Some of Merkel's conservatives have signalled this week that they might envisage alleviating the interest rates or maturities on Greece's emergency loans if the "troika" mission finds that Athens is respecting the main lines of the deal.

But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has taken a tough line on Greece this week and his spokesman pointedly said a small clause in the Greek bailout deal apparently allowing more time for reform targets in the case of a worse-than-expected recession was "not legally binding".

Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor