* Finance Minister says ball now in Greece's court
* Schaeuble takes tough line on Greece's wish list
* Dismisses euro bonds as 'spending other people's money'
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN, June 24 Greece's new government should
stop asking for more help and instead move quickly to enact
reform measures agreed to in return for previous bailouts from
its European partners, German Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble said on Sunday.
Schaeuble told Bild am Sonntag in unusually blunt language
that Greece has forfeited much of Europe's trust during the
sovereign debt crisis, as reflected in an opinion poll covering
the euro zone's four biggest nations and published in the paper.
"The most important task facing new prime minister (Antonis)
Samaras is to enact the programme agreed upon quickly and
without further delay instead of asking how much more others can
do for Greece," said Schaeuble, a close ally of Chancellor
Angela Merkel and Europe's most powerful finance minister.
Greece's new three-party coalition government said on
Thursday it would renegotiate the terms of the 130-billion-euro
bailout deal that is helping the country avoid bankruptcy.
The coalition's platform particularly challenges euro zone
paymaster Germany, which has offered to adjust the lifeline's
terms to make up for time lost as a result of two Greek
elections since May, but refuses to revise it radically.
Greece wants a two-year extension to the 2014 deadline for
it to cut its budget deficit to 2.1 percent of national economic
output, from 9.3 percent in 2011. The extension would require an
extra 16 to 20 billion euros in foreign funding.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy also poured
cold water on the idea in an interview with German newspaper
Welt am Sonntag: "One has to keep in mind that more flexibility
as far as the timeframe is concerned also means more financial
efforts will be neeed by members."
"The problem is: if the goals of Greece or other nations
covered by the bailout are postponed, then they will need more
loans. And that evidently is causing problems for some member
states," Van Rompuy said.
Schaeuble took a firm line, saying: "The ball is now in
Greece's court. It's in their hands to win back the confidence
of the people of Europe. They're only going to accomplish that
with concrete actions and deeds."
The poll of 4,000 people in Germany, France, Spain and Italy
showed 78 percent of Germans and 65 percent of French people
wanted Greece to leave the euro zone, with 51 percent in Spain
and 49 percent in Italy also backing a Greek exit.
Big majorities in all four countries, which have a combined
population of 254 million, did not expect that Greece would ever
repay its bailout loans.
The poll, conducted by the Ifop Institute for Bild am
Sonntag and leading newspapers in France, Spain and Italy,
showed only small minorities in the four states want to scrap
the euro and return to their respective national currencies.
"The poll shows two things," Schaeuble said. "An
overwhelming majority want the euro ...and secondly it shows how
much trust Greece has forfeited among Europeans."
The new government must now work to fix its public finances
while negotiating with euro zone leaders who are losing patience
with Athens after two multi-billion-euro bailouts since 2010
that have failed to stem the crisis.
'SPENDING OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY'
Samaras, 61, was sworn in on Wednesday after elections last
Sunday ended weeks of uncertainty that rattled financial markets
and threatened to push Greece out of the euro zone.
New Democracy narrowly defeated the radical leftist SYRIZA
bloc, which wants to tear up the latest bailout deal and
austerity programme, which it blames for driving the economy
ever deeper into recession.
The government will also seek to extend the payment of
unemployment benefits to two years from one, to offer benefits
to the self-employed without work, and to limit public sector
lay-offs. Lenders want the public sector payroll cut by 150,000.
In a separate interview on Sunday published in Der Spiegel
news magazine, Schaeuble again ruled out any form of
collectivised debt such as euro bonds and defended the German
government's hard line on that.
"It's because you cannot separate the responsibility for
decision-making from the liability," he said when asked why
Germany was so adamantly opposed. "That's true for almost
everything but especially when it comes to money.
"Anyone who has the chance to spend someone else's money
will do that," he added, before telling the reporter: "You'd do
that and so would I. The markets know that. And so from that
point of view they wouldn't be convinced by euro bonds."