ISTANBUL (AFP) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Tuesday poured cold water on suggestions a new economic programme for Greece was being negotiated, saying talks on an existing package had to take place first.
Speaking at the end of a Group of 20 meeting in Istanbul, Schaeuble rejected as “false” reports that Greece was nearing an agreement on a new deal on its debt with its international creditors.
“We are not negotiating a new programme. We already have a programme,” he said, referring to Greece’s existing programme, saying this would be reviewed at a meeting of EU finance ministers on Wednesday.
He said Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will for the first time formally present his proposals to the Eurogroup finance ministers at the meeting.
“We will then consider what the next steps will be,” said Schaeuble.
He said the existing programme will be examined by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund and only once this process was fulfilled could any new assistance be considered.
Schaeuble said there had been “a lot of rhetoric” on the issue and welcomed the chance to talk to Varoufakis along with his fellow euro zone ministers.
“I think to a certain extent the rules are clear (to Athens),” he said.
“Tomorrow, we will hear from them (Greece) in a binding way. It is better than TV reports.”
Schaeuble said he was “not surprised” by his first meeting with Varoufakis earlier this month, saying he respected the radical leftist minister as an economist with a popular mandate from his people.
“I don’t care if he does not wear a tie,” said Schaeuble, commenting on Varoufakis’ casual sartorial style.
“But we had very different ideas” over the situation, he added.