Business Irish

Saturday 17 March 2018

Chances of a solution 'above 50pc' - Noonan

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan
John Downing

John Downing

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said there was a "better than 50pc chance" of a deal on a new Greek bailout.

Mr Noonan said the other EU and Eurozone countries were not sure up to now how serious the Athens government was about concluding their third bailout.

"It seems now they are quite serious and the have started the legal process. We got a letter signed by the prime minister of Greece, on behalf of his government and the Greek people, requesting a third programme for Greece," the Finance Minister told Newstalk radio.

He said new Greek Finance Minster, Euclid Tsakalotos, had made a better impression with the 18 other eurozone colleagues than his predecessor, Yanis Varoufakis.

Mr Noonan said that he had great sympathy for the Greek people, but that they needed to accept Europe's monetary terms if the country is to recover. He rejected allegations that he was playing domestic politics on the international stage, hoping that Greece would not get a debt writedown which he could not get for Ireland.

"It was a political charge. My position was absolutely clear from the start: I want Greece to stay in the Eurozone and I'm prepared to be one of the ministers around the table that negotiates a settlement," said Mr Noonan. He strongly criticised the Greek government for allowing a situation where banks had been closed for over a week. "That was a disaster. Once you close banks and there's no liquidity, it has a permanent damaging effect on the economy," he said.

Meanwhile, Ryanair offered to let passengers fly for free on some domestic air routes in Greece - but only if airport charges at Athens are scrapped first.

Irish Independent

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