(Adds Juncker on Greek debt redemption, Moscovici comments)
BRUSSELS Nov 12 Euro zone finance ministers and
officials met in Brussels on Monday to discuss the situation in
Greece and how to help it to reduce its debt burden.
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Following are comments after Monday's talks:
IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE
ON SUSTAINABILITY OF GREEK DEBT:
"All avenues in order to reduce debt on Greece are being
explored and will continue to be explored in the coming days.
"What we regard as critical, as far as the IMF is concerned,
is that the Greek debt be sustainable.
"In our view the appropriate timetable is 120 percent by
2020. We clearly have different views. What matters at the end
of the day is the sustainability of Greek debt, so that that
country can be back on its feet and re-access the private market
in due course."
ON GREEK BUDGET AND ACTIONS:
"That...(budget law) clearly needs to be reviewed a little
bit, to make sure that all prior actions contained in that
budget law are actually taken. There will be a few, only a few
additional prior actions to be verified in the coming days..."
"This really indicates a really strong resolve by the Greek
authorities to actually deliver and implement on a very
ambitious and important programme, both from the growth
perspective and from the perspective of debt sustainability."
ON SUPPORT FOR CYPRUS:
"As you know there is an assessment of bank recapitalisation
needs that is ongoing at the moment that is due to be concluded
later in November, early December probably. That's an important
factor to really assess the size of what is needed to be done as
far as the banking system is concerned in Cyprus."
EU ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER OLLI REHN
ON GREEK PROGRAMME AND STRUCTURAL REFORMS:
"If you look at the Greek programme, I'd like to make one
point on fiscal and another on structural issues:
"It's worth noting that the adjustment in Greece's
structural budget balance has already exceeded the 10 percentage
points required at the start of the first programme in May 2010,
for the period for 2009-2014.
"In fact, Greece has already improved its structural balance
by no less than 13 percentage points of GDP since 2010 and this
margin will increase further with the implementation of
additional measures foreseen for 2013 and 2014.
"I hope all those who openly dismiss the potential of this
programme for fiscal sustainability by Greece will dwell on
"Moreover, as regards to structural reforms it's time to
debunk the perception that no progress has been made. This
perception is damaging, it's unfair and it is simply wrong."
ON BAILOUT FOR CYPRUS:
"It would have been important to achieve an agreement on the
memorandum already earlier, because the situation is rather
difficult, the economic and financial situation, it's rather
difficult. But things are now moving forward."
EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
ON REACHING A DECISION ON AID TRANCHE FOR GREECE AND NOV. 16
"We're very nearly there and I will do all I can to make
sure that the decision will be taken on Nov. 20, so that all the
questions find an appropriate answer.
"I won't tell you how, but there won't be any problem on
ON GREEK ACTION:
"The Eurogroup acknowledges the considerable efforts already
made by Greek citizens and is convinced that continued fiscal
and structural reforms will after another very difficult period
allow the economy to return to sustainable growth path with
higher employment which is Greece's best guarantee for a more
"The Eurogroup welcomes the resolve of the Greek authorities
to bring the programme back on track, notably through the
adoption by its parliament... of a substantial set of reforms.
"The Eurogroup concludes that the revised fiscal targets, as
requested by the Greek government and supported by the troika,
would be an appropriate adjustment for the further path of
fiscal consolidation in view of recent economic developments.
The Eurogroup looks forward to the adoption of the related legal
texts by the Council."
"Together with the review of the Greek adjustment programme,
the Eurogroup will further discuss financing needs and debt
sustainability, at an extraordinary meeting that will be
convened on Nov. 20."
"We welcome that the Spanish banking programme seems to be
well on track and we look forward to the final assessment to be
presented to the Commission.
"We expect the Commission decision on the restructuring
plans to come out in the weeks to the end of November, together
with the review report, this will be the basis for a decision on
the first disbursement of the banking programme. The decision on
the disbursement will take place before the end of November,
enabling the European Stability Mechanism to make the
disbursement in early December."
FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI
ON TARGET DATE FOR GREEK DEBT/GDP OF 120 PCT:
"As far as I am concerned, as the finance minister of
France, I think we should work with the date of 2022, but it's
true that there are several different points of view about
"Today we did some good work, which recognises the
considerable work done by Greece. We now have to think about the
financing of the funding gap... That is why we have given
ourselves another week.
"We will meet here again in a week's time, I hope, with a
solution which allows us to validate the Greek programme and to
put this difficult question behind us and restore the confidence
in the euro zone.
"...We must now be very pragmatic, not dogmatic. Everybody
has to consider that, while they have their red lines, they have
to be flexible and find the right combination so we can reach a
landmark decision in a week's time."
Following are earlier comments ahead of the talks:
BELGIAN FINANCE MINISTER STEVEN VANACKERE
"In Europe, decisions are always made when the knife is, so
to speak, at our throats, when the abyss is near.
"The very important decisions Greece has passed in its
parliament cannot be without effect. We have to find a solution
together with the Greeks, which is much better for the whole
euro zone than all those ugly scenarios which have been doing
the rounds in the past months and which don't offer a
sustainable solution for the euro zone.
"I believe that we have to move ahead. We have to do this in
a constructive fashion, but in a way that guarantees that Greece
continues its efforts."
AUSTRIAN FINANCE MINISTER MARIA FEKTER
ON SITUATION IN GREECE:
"Greece must be able to stand on its own feet in the
foreseeable future. Otherwise, Greece will be permanently
dependent on the support of its EU peers."
"The Austrian taxpayers are also shaking their heads about
why we need extra money for Greece every three months."
ON MORE TIME FOR GREECE:
"We know that Greece has asked for a bit more time, but more
time means more money. That's an issue because where should that
money come from?"
"I can't imagine that the other states, the ministers, want
to go back to their taxpayers and that we will have to decide on
new packages for Greece that cost even more in our parliaments.
We have to be more creative."
ON POSSIBILITY OF THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK (ECB) FORGOING
GAINS ON ITS GREEK DEBT HOLDINGS:
"The profits of the ECB (European Central Bank) belong to
the national banks. Our national bank is independent and I don't
know yet how that money could go to Greece."
FRENCH FINANCE MINISTER PIERRE MOSCOVICI
ON GREEK PROGRAMME:
"I think that a deal to put the Greek programme back on
track and restore confidence in the euro zone is both desirable
and possible. I have come here with the idea of helping to reach
this political agreement so we can make substantial progress
tonight to get us out of this situation.
"Since the Greeks have made considerable efforts which we
asked of them, we now have to make good on our responsibilities.
Not everything will be resolved today but I want there to be
decisive progress in this Eurogroup."
ON DECISIONS FOR GREECE:
"What is on the agenda today is a political agreement to
move forward and permit the validation of the Greek programme
and I am strongly in favour.
"There will remain additional questions to resolve such as
the sustainability of Greek debt.
"In light of the very important decisions taken by the
Greeks in recent days we have to give a response and it has to
be a positive one... If a bit more time is needed to complete
it, we will take it, but we need a strong signal from this
Eurogroup, not a weak one...
"Technical questions are important, and there are financial
considerations behind them, but our political responsibility is
to extend a helping hand to Greece and be ready with a political
IRISH FINANCE MINISTER MICHAEL NOONAN
ON SITUATION IN GREECE:
"Greece has made steady progress this week - two very
important pieces of legislation have gone through. A lot of the
earlier legislation was the prior conditions necessary for a
renewal of their bailout and yesterday they passed... a budget
with a lot of serious measures in it, so they seem to be
fulfilling all of the conditions that they are being asked to
ON GREECE'S FUNDING REQUIREMENT IN EU/IMF TROIKA REPORT:
"I think that figure has been in circulation for some time -
that if the programme was extended by two years, that there
would be a funding gap of 31-32 billion (euros), so again we'll
have to see later what proposals are being put forward by the
troika in respect of the funding gap."
ASKED ABOUT DIFFERENCES AMONG THE TROIKA:
"There are always differences of opinion among the troika.
But I haven't heard of any difference of opinion on this
occasion. But of course they operate by different criteria, and
as they apply their criteria it doesn't mean that there's any
contention between them, it's simply that the Greek programme
will have to fulfil not only the criteria of the (European)
Commission and the ECB (European Central Bank), but will have to
fulfil the conditions of the IMF as well, and as I said the
criteria are different."
IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE
"Greece has done its work and shown some real resolve, so
it's now for the creditors to do the same and certainly the IMF,
as always, will play its part.
"We are in for not a quick fix, but a real fix. Not a quick
fix, but a real fix."
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE
ON DECISIONS ABOUT GREECE:
"First we'll have to see what Greece has delivered.
Seriously, thoroughness is a must and before we decide,
Germany's Bundestag has to be involved, just like in other
"But we are within the timeframe, aware of our
responsibility but we are sticking to the law."
"I'd like to see if Greece has fulfilled all its obligations
and then I'd like to hear the (EU/IMF) troika report because it
depends on the Greek government having found a solution with the
troika, and I haven't read anything on that on the wires."
SPANISH ECONOMY MINISTER LUIS DE GUINDOS
ON SITUATION IN SPAIN:
"The future of the euro is being played out in Spain."
ON SPANISH ECONOMY:
"We are conscious that international forecasts for Spain are
lower than our own forecasts. But those forecasts are not
written in stone. We are working in our economic programme to
meet our forecasts that we consider to be realistic."
ON DEFICIT STRATEGY:
"We have to take into account that Europe is in recession
and that in these circumstances, we must look not just at
nominal targets, but at structural ones.
"We see positive signs that indicate that our efforts to
correct imbalances can in the medium-term start to produce
"The current account surplus forecast for 2013 could even be
met this year."
"We have to reduce the fiscal deficit at a sensible pace. In
the medium term we need sound public finances, but it has to be
a sensible pace that doesn't create future problems and everyone
in the Eurogroup is on the same page in that regard."
ON FINANCIAL REFORM:
"We need to take two steps - the capital injection, and we
expect Commission approval in the next few weeks, and the other
is the bad bank... The combination of the capital injection and
the bad bank should leave the process perfectly clear and create
a much-healed, stronger financial sector."
FINNISH FINANCE MINISTER JUTTA URPILAINEN
ON EU/IMF TROIKA REPORT ON GREEK DEBT SUSTAINABILITY:
"To get the sustainability report is very important and now
we are waiting for more information.
"Unfortunately we haven't got all the information, not yet,
so we are waiting for more information and we can see whether we
are able to make decisions today or later this week.
"Probably we are not able to make decisions today, but we
DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM
ON GREECE AND EUROPEAN COMMISSION/ECB/IMF TROIKA:
"I want to hear today where we are: the findings of the
troika and the recommendations that they are making, and how we
will continue from here."
ON TIMING OF DECISIONS ON GREECE:
"We won't be put under pressure, the Greeks too have waited
for the last moment with many things. We too will take the time
we need to see where we are."
ON ADDITIONAL TIME FOR GREECE TO MEET TARGETS:
"There are many possibilities, but I won't get ahead of
ON NEXT FOUR YEARS AS DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER:
"Greece has a long way to go, so that will take a long time.
It's clear that we will have to make large step towards
guaranteeing the stability of the euro."
(Reporting by Luke Baker, Jan Strupczewski, Daniel Flynn,
Annika Breidthardt, Robin Emmott, Robert-Jan Bartunek and John
O'Donnell; compiled by Rex Merrifield)