* No more risk of contagion - Schaeuble
* Greek PM says bailout talks with lenders must finish by
* IMF says Greece must find further, targeted savings
By Michelle Martin
BERLIN, Nov 23 German Finance Minister Wolfgang
Schaeuble said on Saturday that there were no longer any risks
of contagion in the euro zone, and Greek Prime Minister Antonis
Samaras stressed his country did not need a further bailout.
Schaeuble said Greece's achievements in the last 1-1/2
years, which included better-than-expected growth and progress
in reducing its deficit, merited respect. He also pointed to the
decline in the difference between yields on German and Greek
He said government crises and coalition negotiations no
longer posed contagion risks for the single currency bloc as a
whole, without specifying which country or countries he was
"The euro is stable, financial markets are no longer
concerned about the future of the euro zone and there are no
risks of contagion anymore," he said at a conference organised
by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Berlin.
Speaking later at the event, Greece's Samaras reiterated
that his country did not need a further bailout and instead
simply needed to fulfil the terms of its existing programme.
Athens has said it will emerge from a six-year recession
next year and has more than doubled its forecast for the budget
surplus before interest payments for this year.
International lenders are in the middle of their latest
review of Greece's performance on its reform targets. Posting a
budget surplus before interest payments would open the way for
Greece to ask for debt relief.
"I think that this is enough. We don't need something else -
we don't need another programme - we just have to stick by this
programme," Samaras said.
After more than two months of reviewing Greece's economy,
the lenders have still not agreed to release Greece's next
tranche of bailout funds as they disagree with Athens on the
size of a fiscal gap for 2014-2015 and how this will be filled.
Officials from the "troika" of lenders - the European
Commission, the European Central Bank and the International
Monetary Fund - are due to return to the country in early
"I believe that what we need at this point is to finish the
job by the end of the year of getting, that is, the approval of
the troika for the next tranche," Samaras said.
The prime minister stressed that Greece did not need more
time to reduce its debt. "At this point I'm going very fast ...
I do not need time to wait," he said.
Athens faces bond payments of 1.85 billion euros ($2.5
billion) in early January.
Greece said earlier this week it will post a primary budget
surplus before interest payments, of 0.4 percent of GDP this
But under the terms of its international bailout it must
widen the surplus to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2016. Athens has said
it will meet this target without taking further unpopular
austerity measures, helped by an economic recovery and better
But the troika insists the country must make further cuts
because it doubts the degree to which an economic rebound and a
crack down on tax evasion can improve Greece's finances.
ROOM FOR COMPROMISE
IMF's mission chief for Greece suggested on Saturday that
there is room for compromise, since both Athens and its lenders
agreed that across-the-board measures which would hurt the
country's economy should be avoided.
"Further measures will be needed for 2014-2016 but they will
be on a much smaller scale than in the past," the IMF's mission
chief for Greece Poul Thomsen was quoted as saying in an
interview with newspaper Kathimerini.
"We agree with the (Greek) government there should be no
across-the-board measures and that they should focus on areas of
waste," Thomsen said.
"Across-the-board" fiscal measures are generally understood
to be fiscal measures that indiscriminately affect the entire
population, like tax increases or public sector pay and pension
Speaking on Friday in a joint press conference with German
Chancellor Angela Merkel, Samaras reiterated that there would be
no new wage and pension cuts in austerity-weary Greece.
Greece and its lenders have yet to settle many outstanding
issues, Thomsen said, including the 2014 budget, Greece's
2014-2017 mid-term fiscal strategy and a new property tax.
The troika was also pushing Greece to soften current
restrictions on large-scale corporate firings, as well as on
bank foreclosures of first homes, Thomsen told Kathimerini.