Confusion over Greek claim of bailout extension

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble labelled the statement as 'speculation'

Athens

The cacophony in Europe over Greece grew yet louder as Athens and some of the Continent's economic leaders contradicted each other over an elusive agreement between the recession-hit country and its creditors.

Greece's Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the country had finally agreed the terms of a new austerity package with its lenders and had been graced with a much-coveted extension to its bailout targets, which was later all resoundingly dismissed by European officials.

Mr Stournaras told MPs yesterday that Athens had been granted an extension to implementing its economic programme to spread the cuts over an additional two years, until 2016. "What did we achieve today? We achieved an extension," Mr Stournaras said in parliament.

Under the terms of the current loan agreement, Athens is expected to implement €13.5bn (£10bn) of cuts in 2013-14. Nearly half of them would be drawn from reductions in pensions and wages and €9.2bn needs to be cut in 2013 alone. "If we hadn't achieved the extension, today we would not only be taking €13.5bn measures, but €18.5bn instead," Mr Stournaras said.

But Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said he could not confirm his counterpart's statement, calling it "speculation" at this stage. "As far as the Federal Finance Ministry and the German government are concerned there are no new developments," he said.

Steffen Kampeter, an official in Germany's Finance Ministry, insisted that any extension decision would be made after the inspectors' progress report was completed. "Anything prior to that is reading tea leaves," he told a German radio station. Jörg Asmussen, a board member at the European Central Bank, added that any extension "would mean the other eurozone states having to provide more financial means".

Earlier in the day, Mr Stournaras told MPs and reporters that after an all-night debate, Athens had "closed a deal on the package" of measures after the creditors backed down on labour reforms. An official at the Greek Finance Ministry confirmed the statement in an interview with The Independent, but no official announcement was made.

European officials specifically denied that any agreement had been reached. "I am not in a position to confirm anything in the report," said Simon O'Connor, a spokesman for the Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Olli Rehn. "There is no agreement yet."

Talks between political leaders that make up Greece's coalition government floundered on Tuesday after junior Democratic left party objected to labour reforms.

"We don't want to bring the government down, we just need to apply pressure to have a strong renegotiation with our lenders," Thodoros Margaritis, a senior official in the Democratic Left party, said.

After Mr Stournaras's speech in the Greek parliament, the opposition party leader slammed the coalition government's commitment to austerity after it had vowed to renegotiate the painful programme with the country's lenders as recently as April.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific