BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund will seek to unfreeze the second bailout package for Greece in talks on Monday, but they must first agree if some of the official loans to Athens might eventually be forgiven to cut Greek debt.
Following are comments ahead of their talks:
”In the Eurogroup meeting two weeks ago all member states of the euro zone said that due to their national legal situation they would not be able to cut debt if it was linked to a new guarantee.
”You cannot guarantee something if you’re cutting debt at the same time. That’s not just the case in Germany, it’s the case in all member states. All colleagues have said it like this two weeks ago. That’s why it’s a bad habit to turn it into a typically German problem, it’s not a German problem, it’s a problem in the euro zone that all are saying that the construction of the rescue funds does not allow for a debt cut.
“The European Central Bank says the same, that it is not prepared (to cut debt) and it is the largest public creditor.”
“We will find a solution, I‘m optimistic, we have worked well. I hope we don’t have to negotiate until the late hours. We are prepared to come to a solution and I think we will manage today.”
“I think we are very close, we need to agree on Greece’s debt level. It is crucial to reach agreement, it would be a message of confidence, not just for Greece, but for the whole euro zone. It is important to send out a clear political message.”
ON EU REGULATORY APPROVAL ON NOV. 28 FOR SPANISH BANK RESTRUCTURING PLAN:
”On Wednesday, (EU Competition) Commissioner (Joaquin) Almunia will definitively approve the Spanish banks’ restructuring plan, essentially those that are nationalized.
“From there, the restructuring plans will establish the path to follow over a period of five years... We already have our capital needs defined, all this sticks to the memorandum of understanding (on bank rescue). I don’t think we will see any surprises.”
“For the nationalized banks... the amount is going to be around 37 billion euros. On top of that, we will have a capital injection and the FROB (restructuring fund)... and the limited capital needs to banks who are not in the first group. In all, we are talking about 40 billion euros, which is the number we have always had in mind, about 3.5 percent of GDP.”
”Pretty good, I think. There was a teleconference on Saturday in which we all participated and quite a lot of progress was made. I assume there were discussions in the IMF at the weekend.
”So I would be hoping that we will come to a satisfactory conclusion this evening. But you can’t be absolutely certain. Certainly the ground has now been laid.
”We were establishing a common position in the Eurogroup on Saturday. That common position has been put to the IMF, we’ll see how this works out today.
“There is a variety of issues - it comes down to the ways and means to accommodate the Greek position, there is a willingness to do so, its work out the details...”
WILL GREEK DEBTS TO OFFICIAL SECTOR BONDHOLDERS BE CUT (OFFICIAL SECTOR INVOLVEMENT):
“Not in the sense that it is accepted now, I do not want to go into the details.”
”It’s the third meeting in three weeks and there was also a telephone meeting on Saturday. All the parameters of the solution are on the table. We are facing our responsibilities.
”I hope today’s meeting will be conclusive and I hope it will be not too long because if everyone is responsible, we know what we have to do. The mechanisms are known to everyone. The different levers on which we can act are known to everyone.
“We have an agreement that is 95 percent possible immediately. Let’s go quickly and leave here with a deal that will allow us to finance the Greek program, to disburse the aid that we must put in place and to ensure the sustainability of the Greek debt in the medium term.”
“As you know Greece has fully delivered its part of the agreement, so we expect our partners to deliver their part too, and I‘m certain we will find a mutually beneficial solution today.”
”We have the serious intent to come to a conclusion, on the one hand about the financing, and on the other hand regarding the plan of sustainable Greek debt. There are still talks with the IMF and we could decide on paying out the tranche today.
“Greece has made a huge effort, it has lived up to all the conditions and we have nothing to criticize, so we have to make an effort to come to a joint solution.”
ASKED ABOUT A POSSIBLE CUT IN GREECE‘S OWINGS (OSI):
”That’s not on the agenda at the moment because we are thinking about lowering interest rates. We are thinking about using the large profits of the national banks to give them back to Greece. That means it will about a mix of measures if everybody is involved.
“A debt cut for the public bodies, and in fact the taxpayers, was not wanted by any country.”
ASKED ABOUT POSSIBLE CUT IN GREECE‘S DEBT FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD:
“I can’t decide on funds that I know I would be losing in 2015. No, it won’t work like that. We are on a path towards debt sustainability, which will be achieved if Greece lives up to its obligations and implements its structural reforms.”
“We are going to work towards a solution that is credible for Greece, that is what is important. It must be credible and it must really be about Greece, and so we are going to work very intensely on that.”
”It’s essential to take the decision on the disbursement of the next tranche in order to end the uncertainty that is still hanging over Greece. It is important for Greece, important for Europe and I want to encourage all the euro area member states and the IMF to go the last mile in order to find an agreement, in fact go the last centimeter because we are so close to an agreement.
“This is essential now, and Greece has delivered. Now it is delivery time for the Eurogroup and the IMF.”