Tuesday 12 December 2017

Noonan backs calls for a restructuring of Greece’s billion euro loans

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

FINANCE Minister Michael Noonan has insisted he has never taken a “hardline approach” to the Greek debt crisis and backed calls for a restructuring of the country’s billion euro loans.

Speaking ahead of a crunch meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels, Mr Noonan said he will do whatever he can to ensure Greece remains in eurozone as fears of a Greek exit or Grexit increase.

“I have never had a hardline approach to Greece. I have always said that Ireland want Greece to stay in the eurogroup and we are prepared to negotiate and we see restructuring of the debt as part of the negotiations,” Mr Noonan said.

He added: “I have great friendships with previous Greek finance minister and I would hope we could end up in the next few days with a medium term, sustainable Greek programme.”

Mr Noonan said there was several debt restructuring options available to Greece and highlighted the path taken by Ireland in renegotiating its bailout programme.

“You will recall we got extended maturities twice, we got reduced interest rates. We got a total re-engineering of the promissory note. We got permission to refinance the IMF loans. We actually paid off €18.5bn of IMF loans and refinanced on the market,” he told reporters.

Mr Noonan said he hoped the new proposals from Greece would be sustainable in the media term and warned against “kicking the can down the road for another month or two”.

“We want a proposal that carries on for several years and (will) hopefully get Greece back on a path to growth again,” he said.

He added: “I am not in favour of a Greek exit so I will be doing everything I can as a small country representatives to make sure Greece is sustained in the eurogroup.”

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