July 7, 2015 / 7:15 AM / 4 years ago

EU's Oettinger says unity in Athens raises hopes for euro summit

BERLIN, July 7 (Reuters) - The European Union wants to help Greece and a newly unified negotiating stance from Athens should ensure that Tuesday’s euro zone summit makes more progress than the last round of talks, Germany’s EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

Greece’s often divided political leaders issued a rare joint statement on Monday after a day of talks in the president’s office backing efforts to reach a deal with creditors.

“The parties in Greece are no longer at odds, but rather recognise the difficult situation,” Oettinger told German radio station Deutschlandfunk. “So I think that today negotiations could be conducted better than a week ago.”

After negotiating with European and IMF creditors 10 days ago, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on whether the country should accept or reject a bailout agreement offered by creditors. On Sunday, voters duly rejected the deal.

Oettinger, European Commissioner for the digital economy, hoped the Greek government would go to Tuesday’s summit with worthwhile reform proposals: “There has to be a minimum of reforms,” he said.

European Council President Donald Tusk has called the summit for 6 p.m. (1600 GMT).

Asked about the appointment of Euclid Tsakalotos, a soft-spoken academic economist, as Greek finance minister, Oettinger said: “He does not have the same attitudes as his predecessor.”

Tsakalotos replaced Yanis Varoufakis, who infuriated fellow euro zone finance ministers with his casual style and indignant lectures. His sacrifice suggested Tsipras was determined to try to reach a last-ditch compromise with European leaders.

“We want to help Greece,” Oettinger said. “We are Greece’s partners. Greece is an important member of the European Union, in the euro zone.” (Writing by Paul Carrel; editing by John Stonestreet)

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