Monday 23 October 2017

Little scope for another Greek deal - Noonan

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses a news conference after meeting European Parliament President Martin Schulz yesterday. Reuters.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addresses a news conference after meeting European Parliament President Martin Schulz yesterday. Reuters.
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

THERE is very little scope for another Greek debt deal, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said.

As Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the country's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis held separate meetings with key EU leaders yesterday on Greece's debt burden, Mr Noonan told the Dail that the country had already benefited from three separate deals.

"It also means there is very little scope to cut another deal," Mr Noonan said.

"There is very little headroom left, but there is some. European colleagues have done a lot for Greece."

Mr Noonan said he had sympathy with the Greek people, and that the Government would consider any request from Athens along with other European governments.

"There isn't so far a consistent set of demands," Mr Noonan said. "We'll see what the Greek ask is."

And he reiterated his view that the best place to discuss the issue of Greece's debt is within the monthly gathering of Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings of Eurozone and European finance ministers, rather than a debt conference.

"It's up to the Greek government to ask for what they want. And when they ask for what they want, Ireland will consider it the same as every other European country will consider it," Mr Noonan said. "I understand the difficulties of Greece. I am very sympathetic towards the Greek people."

Meanwhile, after talks at ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Mr Varoufakis said Greece could conclude debt talks with its international lenders in a short period and he believes it can count on ECB support.

"The ECB is the central bank of Greece... The ECB will do whatever it takes to support the member states in the Eurozone," he said.

"I have no doubt that we can conclude our discussions with our European partners, as well as with the IMF and the ECB, in a very short space of time so that we can kick-start the Greek economy."

After meeting Mario Draghi, Mr Varoufakis said the two men had a "fruitful exchange".

"We established a line of communication. We outlined to him the main objectives of this government which is to reform Greece in a way that has never been tried before and with a determination that was always absent.

"We also stated categorically that the debt-deflationary cycle in which Greece finds itself is detrimental to all efforts to reform Greece. He was good enough to explain to us his own constraints."

Mr Tsipras, who held talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Brussels, said Greece respects European Union rules and will find a solution to its economic problems within the framework of EU law.

"I'm very optimistic that we will try to do our best in order to find a common, viable and mutually acceptable solution for our common future," he said.

(Additional reporting Reuters)

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