Greece made to sweat on bid for more time to pay

Angela Merkel tells Antonis Samaras that decision on bail-out will 'not be taken prematurely'

The eurozone's paymaster had a blunt message for the currency bloc's most desperate member yesterday: be patient. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, that his request for more time to meet his country's bailout commitments would not even be considered until international inspectors, known as “the troika”, had completed their latest audit of the country's books next month.

"We will not make premature judgments but will await reliable evidence," Ms Merkel said at a joint news conference in Berlin.

She did, however, stress that she did not want to see the struggling nation crash out of the single currency. "Greece is part of the eurozone and I want Greece to remain part of the eurozone" she said.

For his part, Mr Samaras reiterated that Greece urgently needed more leeway from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund to deliver on its deficit-reduction commitments. "We're not asking for more money," he said. "We're asking for breaths of air in this dive we are taking."

But many financial analysts argue that extending the time allowed for Greece to make its cuts, as Mr Samaras wants, will inevitably result in the country applying for another financial aid package, on top of the two it has already received since May 2010.

And some German politicians have been heaping pressure on Ms Merkel not to give way. The leader of Ms Merkel's parliamentary party, Volker Kauder, said of the Greek package yesterday, in an interview on German TV, that "neither the time nor the content can be renegotiated."

The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble, said a clause in the Greek bailout deal allowing more time for deficit reduction in the case of a worse-than-expected recession was "not legally binding".

The German Economy Minister, Philip Roesler, said last month that the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone had "lost its horror". At yesterday's press conference, Mr Samaras chided the German media for talking up the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone, saying it was merely serving to undermine the Greek economy, which is projected to shrink up to 7 per cent this year.

"Would any business invest euros in something if he thinks he will get back drachmas? Of course not," he said. The troika is made up of inspectors from the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. They are due to rule in September on whether Greece is doing enough to warrant the release of the next instalment of its bailout funds, worth €31bn.

Mr Samaras has identified €11.5bn in public spending cuts in order to bring Greece's deficit down to 3 per cent of GDP by 2015. But reports have suggested that the troika is preparing to tell Greece that it needs to find €13.5bn to stay on target due to the deterioration in the Greek economy.

Mr Samaras is due to meet the French President, François Hollande, today, and analysts say he is likely to get much the same response. Mr Hollande discussed Greece with Ms Merkel over dinner in Berlin on Thursday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • 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

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before