France tries to keep path open for Greece accord
France urged Greece to come back to the negotiating table with new proposals today, insisting a cash-for-reform deal was possible even as the country's resounding 'No' vote prompted growing German calls for its exit from the euro zone.
President Francois Hollande, who welcomes Germany's Angela Merkel for talks in Paris on Monday before a euro zone summit on Tuesday, has sought in vain to bridge the gap between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and other European leaders.
Hollande also has a tough balancing act at home. The far-right National Front is calling for the outright dissolution of the euro zone and the mainstream right wants "Grexit" while the left wing of his ruling Socialists want him to use his EU veto to defy German-led austerity and back the Greeks.
"There is a risk of (Greece) leaving the euro but there is no automatic exit, in the same way that the vote doesn't mean automatically that Greece stays in the euro. What will determine whether it stays or leaves is the quality of negotiations that will start," Finance Minister Michel Sapin said.
"If having won back their pride they can return to negotiations, so much the better ... "It is up to the Greek government to make proposals now," he told Europe 1 radio.
Sapin called on the European Central Bank not to cut current liquidity to the Greek banking system and reaffirmed that talks on Greek debt relief should be "no taboo".
"The debt burden in the months and years ahead is too high on Greece to allow it to get back on its feet again," he said.
Merkel is due to arrive in Paris around 6pm local time for talks in which she and Hollande will try to bridge the gap between France's more conciliatory line and the tough rhetoric heard across the political spectrum in Berlin. The two are expected to make a joint statement but not take questions.
Meanwhile, a German government spokesman said that the door for negotiations with Greece was open, but the conditions for such talks were not yet met.
"The government takes notice of the clear 'No' vote and respects it," Steffen Seibert said, adding that Germany was open for bailout talks with Greece.
"However in light of the decision by the Greek citizens, the conditions to start negotiations on a new aid programme are not met yet", Seibert added.