February 16, 2015 / 7:50 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Germany's Schaeuble "very sceptical" about Greek debt talks

* Athens behaving “quite irresponsibly”, minister says

* Schaeuble against deal “just for the sake of a compromise” (Adds more Schaeuble quotes, Austrian finance minister)

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a radio interview on Monday that he was not very optimistic that Greece and its euro zone partners would reach a debt agreement at a meeting in Brussels later in the day.

Asked if the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers would find a solution for Greece’s debt problems, Schaeuble told Deutschlandfunk: “From what I’ve heard about the technical talks over the weekend, I’m very sceptical, but we will get a report today and then we’ll see.”

Schaeuble said Germany did not want Greece ot leave the euro zone, but that the new government in Athens had to fulfil the core conditions of its bailout programme and that it was not about finding a compromise deal “just for the sake of a compromise”.

“The problem is that Greece has lived beyond its means for a long time and that nobody wants to give Greece money anymore without guarantees,” Schaeuble said, noting that Athens had to stick to agreed reforms to become competitive.

Schaeuble added that the new Greek government was behaving “quite irresponsibly” right now and that it was no help to insult others who have supported the country in the past.

A Greek leftist newspaper close to the ruling party in Athens published a cartoon last week which showed Schaeuble in a Nazi uniform. He is quoted saying “we insist on soap from your fat” and “we are discussing fertilizer from your ashes”, references to the fate of Jews in Nazi death camps.

In a separate interview with German broadcaster ZDF, Austria’s finance minister Hans-Joerg Schelling said the new Greek government still appeared to be in “election mode not working mode”.

Greece’s finance minister meets his euro zone peers and ECB President Mario Draghi on Monday to discuss how to proceed with his country’s bailout programme, which runs out on Feb. 28. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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