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08/12/2016

Merkel blames Tsipras for bailout deadlock

Euro & Finance

Merkel blames Tsipras for bailout deadlock

Eurozone leaders meet in Brussels on 22 June.

[European Union]

As the blame game intensifies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Athens of refusing to compromise, saying no one can get 100%, while Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was even tougher on the Greek government. EurActiv Germany reports.

“One must simply state that, on the Greek side, there was no will to compromise,” Merkel said on Monday (29 June) in Berlin after speaking with party and parliamentary group leaders of the Bundestag.

Its European partners have offered Athens “an extraordinarily generous programme”, she pointed out, but due to the Greek decision to hold a referendum, these negotiations could not be concluded.

Now the ball is in the Greek government’s court, she said, “we stand ready to help as necessary”. And, from the European side, all “economic stimuli for Greece are still on the table”.

The Chancellor also emphasised that in the eurozone, “the principles of own responsibility and solidarity are two sides of the same coin”.

Neither one should be questioned, she said. Europe can only exist if it is willing to compromise. “No one can get 100%,” Merkel added.

“Referendum in Greece will decide Grexit”

Meanwhile, Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel used even sharper language.

Athens wants “politically, one could say ideologically, a different eurozone”, he said. The assistance and reform programme has gone further than all previous offers and would also have attempted to reduce social hardships.

However, the Greek government does not want to carry out any of its own reforms but, rather, wants “help without reciprocation”, he said.

Europe cannot pay “long-term unconditional financial aid”, Gabriel pointed out, and the government must openly tell that to the population.

If a Greek majority were to accept the creditors’ offer, then the eurozone would have to take up the loose ends of cancelled negotiations over an assistance programme and conclude them, he explained. “That is completely clear, for the German government as well,” Gabriel said.

If the Greeks vote against the offer, then the negotiations will not be continued. “Then it is a clear decision against staying in the euro,” Gabriel concluded.

Of course the result of the referendum has to do with the issue of the euro’s future, Merkel echoed.

Without telling the Greek people how they should vote, the intention is to clearly present the effects of a decision, she said.

If, after the referendum planned for Sunday, the Greek government requests it, “of course we will not block such negotiations”, Merkel indicated.

Opposition calls for special euro summit

While the German government is being backed by the grand coalition in the Bundestag, opposition parties are calling for a return to the negotiating table. Merkel should quickly work towards a special summit of European heads of state and government on Greece, opposition politicians argued.

This is urgentl, said Green parliamentary group leader Anton Hofreiter on Monday after a briefing from Merkel.

All those involved must sit down at one table together and show a willingness to compromise, Hofreiter explained, warning that “the danger is larger than many perceive it to be”.

The euro and the entire EU are in danger if an agreement is not possible, he predicted.

Parliamentary group leader for the Left party, Gregor Gysi, said “one should not forget that the German Chancellor holds a primary responsibility for all this”.

The Greek crisis threatens to become the end of the euro and of the European Union, he pointed out, and that would do great harm to Germany, Greece and Europe.

Ahead of the meeting in the Chancellery, Left party leader Katja Kipping said Merkel is partially to blame for the dramatic current situation in Greece.

If the country leaves the eurozone, Kipping warned, Merkel “will go down in history books as the Chancellor under whom the beginning of the end of the eurozone started”.

Background

On Friday night, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras unexpectedly announced a referendum on the latest offer from European partners and creditors in the country's debt crisis. In response, euro finance ministers said they saw no basis for negotiation any longer and rejected an extention of the ongoing second assistance programme for Greece beyond Tuesday.

Further Reading