Greek stalemate

Deep scepticism in some euro zone countries

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) confers with European Parliament President Martin Schulz prior to the start of a Eurozone summit in Brussels.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (left) confers with European Parliament President Martin Schulz prior to the start of a Eurozone summit in Brussels. PHOTO: EPA

BRUSSELS • In the euro zone, especially with Germany, the biggest contributor to euro zone bailouts, the mood is one of deep scepticism that Greece will be able to get its act together. There is also mounting public opinion hostile to any further aid for Greece.

As the euro zone finance ministers met yesterday, it is clear that Germany and several other euro zone countries remain deeply sceptical that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' leftist government will deliver on promised reforms which include tax hikes, privatisations and pension cuts.

Months of brinkmanship by the Greek government have also not helped its case.

For Germany's part, Chancellor Angela Merkel is under mounting pressure from her own conservatives not to give any more money to Greece, although she has so far said that she wants to hold the euro zone together, and that will require a third bailout for Athens.

She needs the German Parliament to agree to the opening of loan negotiations, so diplomats expect her to commit to calling a special session of the Bundestag to give her that mandate if Greece enacts prior reforms this week.

FRANCE SUPPORTIVE

France will do everything to find an accord allowing Greece to stay in the euro.

FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE

France is more supportive. President Francois Hollande, arriving for the summit in Brussels, said yesterday that his country would do "everything" to keep Greece in the euro single currency. "France will do everything to find an accord allowing Greece to stay in the euro."

Sources said that, besides Germany, other member states to take a tough line were Belgium, Finland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Spain, Italy and Malta were more conciliatory, as were Ireland and Portugal, who like Greece also had to be bailed out at the height of the debt crisis.

The US has added its voice to calls for a deal over the weekend, concerned at the geopolitical consequences if Greece were to be cut loose and become a failed state in the fragile southern Balkans, adjoining the Middle East.

"No one wants to see a North Korea in south-eastern Europe," a European Commission official said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'Deep scepticism in some euro zone countries'. Print Edition | Subscribe