Eurozone insists on written Greek vows
BRUSSELS - Agence France-Presse
French Finance Minister Francois Baroin (L) talks with Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos (R) at a Eurogroup meeting at the European Union council headquarters in Brussels Jan 23. REUTERS photoThe eurozone wants Greek political parties to commit to economic reforms in writing before Athens can receive a second bailout, Austria’s finance minister said yesterday.
“The IMF will work on a new program with the Greeks, but we will only be able to agree on it if the ruling parties and the other parties agree on it. This has to be in writing,” Maria Fekter said.
“Only if we have this written statement will there be further aid,” she said on arrival for a second day of talks among European Union finance ministers in Brussels.
Other European finance ministers piled pressure on Greece to forge ahead with structural reforms and also demanded that the country’s private creditors make sacrifices by accepting a massive debt writedown.
Greece has not delivered
“It’s quite clear that the implementation in Greece has failed,” said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, whose country is not part of the eurozone, but participated in a first bailout of Greece in May 2010.
“When it comes to structural reform, when it comes to fiscal reform they have not delivered,” he said.
After a first day of talks that ended late on Jan. 23, Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of eurozone finance ministers, said the Greek program was “off track.”
With Greece locked in complex negotiations with banks, Juncker said the private sector should agree to bond swap deal with an interest rate well below the 4.0 percent the creditors were asking.
“I think it is a difficult deal and I think that banks must realize that their negotiation position is not that strong,” Borg said.
“Greece and the banks have to do more in order to reach a sustainable debt level. And we have to await the discussions about that because a sustainable debt level is absolutely a precondition for the next program,” Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said.
Eurozone leaders offered Greece last year a new, 130-billion-euro rescue package conditioned on a debt writedown with private lenders worth 100 billion euros.
Turkish names included in list of Greek debtors
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
A 170-page list from the Greek Finance Ministry of 4,152 tax evaders who owe a total debt of approximately 15 billion euros, or 7 percent of Greece’s gross domestic product, include a number of Turkish names.
The list released on Jan. 22, included 37 people with Turkish names, in addition to famous personalities in Greece like the former head of a Greek football club, a Greek singer and a Greek basketball player.
The 37 citizens bearing Turkish names are from the Western Thrace region in Greece, according to the local news portal habermonitor. The source mentioned three Turkish names, including Meral Örter, who owes 7.6 million euros in debt to the Greek government; Muhammed Demirci, who owes 5.3 million euros; and Ahmet Sehata, who owes 5 million euros.
If the tax evaders were to repay their taxes, the tax proceeds could go a long way toward covering the Greek debt, according to reports.
Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers yesterday sent back a debt-restructuring offer from private Greek bondholders to achieve a lower average coupon on Greek bonds, saying it required further negotiations.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, who also chairs the meetings of eurozone finance ministers, said the interest rate on the new bonds would have to average “below 4 percent” over the lifetime of the bonds. In the period before 2020, the average interest rate will be less than 3.5 percent, he added, according to the Associated Press. Those caps are below the interest rates demanded by Greece’s private creditors, who already have had to give up 50 percent of the face value of their investments.