Germany presses Greece on reform, warns against eurozone exit

May 18, 2015 09:05
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel says a Greek exit from the eurozone will be highly dangerous economically and politically. Photo: Reuters

Germany is keeping up the pressure on Greece to undertake reform if it wants to unlock new bailout funds.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned Athens that a third aid package will not be released unless the Greeks make some changes, Reuters reported Monday .

Greece is fast running out of cash and talks with its lenders have been deadlocked over their demands for Greece to implement reform, including pension cuts and labor market liberalization.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday that Greece might need a referendum to approve painful economic reform on which its creditors are insisting.

Gabriel said such a vote might speed up decisions.

Athens has said it has no plans for a referendum at the moment.

Gabriel, head of the Social Democrats (SPD), Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior coalition partner, said that the Greek government needs to take action in any case.

"A third aid package for Athens is only possible if the reforms are implemented. We can't simply send money there," he said.

German conservative lawmaker Markus Ferber told German news magazine Der Spiegel that there is no majority in Germany for a third aid package for Greece.

Athens has depended on money from its 240 billion euro bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to pay its bills since 2010.

It has not received any loan tranches since August.

On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Athens had found some common ground with its foreign lenders but the government would not back down from its red lines, such as no cuts to wages and pensions.

Volker Kauder, parliamentary leader of Merkel's conservatives, told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper that the situation was "very difficult" and "the Greeks must show that they are continuing down the agreed path".

He said people should not be talking about a third aid package for Athens when the final aid tranche from the second bailout had yet to be paid out.

Gabriel warned about the consequences of Greece quitting the single currency bloc, saying a Greek exit "would not only be highly dangerous economically but also politically".

-- Contact us at [email protected]