BERLIN (Reuters) - Additional relief measures could be granted to Greece if efforts to reduce its debt pile fail and certain criteria are met, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said in a Sunday newspaper.
Before the matter can be considered however, countries should evaluate a report due from International Monetary Fund, European Union and European Central Bank inspectors currently in Greece, Schaeuble told Bild am Sonntag.
“(Further aid) is only conceivable if it is confirmed that private creditors, like banks, do not pull out of Greece and leave European taxpayers responsible for everything,” he said.
Lending countries must also be assured Greece will be able overcome economic woes before talking about further steps.
“Only then could we, if necessary, deliberate to lengthen (the maturity of) bonds which Greece must repay next year.”
The current inspection visit, described by Greek officials as the toughest review to date of the country’s progress on its 110 billion euro ($156 billion) bailout, has already been prolonged. Officials hope it can be concluded next week but have given no target date.
Last Friday, the IMF pressed Europe for stronger steps to tackle the region’s debt crisis, saying countries needed access to more funding to stay afloat, but resistance to the call surfaced at the ECB.
In a sign of apparent divisions between policymakers over how to handle the crisis, an ECB official said it was mainly up to Greece to rescue itself — and the country could be cut off from aid if it did not act.
In the interview, Schaeuble said there was a need for unity among policymakers, adding that should Greece need an extension of its bond maturities, the approval of the IMF and, above all, the ECB would be needed.
“It must not in any way come to a conflict here with the European Central Bank,” he said.
Writing by Brian Rohan; Editing by Dan Lalor