Friday 20 April 2018

Ministers refuse to support debt write-down for Greece as fears of contagion increase

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Niall O'Connor and Philip Ryan

Senior Coalition figures have cast doubt over the prospect of a debt write-down for Greece as concern grows over the potential knock-on effect of a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Government ministers yesterday refused to lend their support to the idea of a debt write down, instead opting to use terms such as "debt re-profiling" or "debt-restructuring".

Speaking in Connemara, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said it is now up to the Greek government to make the next move.

"The second bailout has ended and you are now into a position where the next move is up to the Greek government. If they wish to have a third bailout or a third programme put in place with monies made available then they have got to ask for that and that means that they have got to sit down and restart negotiations again."

Speaking on RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland', European Affairs Minister Dara Murphy was challenged by Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty after he suggested the Government would back "debt relief" for Greece.

Mr Doherty said this was a new departure for the Government which has consistently refused to support such a measure.

But as the day progressed, senior Coalition figures would not commit to such a measure.

Mr Kenny said he believed "debt re-profiling" would be an option examined by EU leaders when they meet in Brussels today, adding a debt write-down has not been discussed.

"There wasn't any talk of write downs but there was talk of debt re-profiling and that happened in our own case with promissory note," he said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said it is now the prerogative of the Greek Government to come back to the negotiation table with a new set of proposals.

Asked specifically about the prospect of a debt write-down, Mr Flanagan said he did not believe this was on the table.

"What it (debt profiling) entails is a restructuring, not necessarily a write-down but it does involve a certain set of circumstances around which the Greek economy is going to recovery and Greek society is going to endure," he said.

Mr Flanagan made the remarks after holding talks in Dublin with his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna.

Mr Schetyna said the Eurozone must consider whether to assist countries like Ireland which have shown positive engage with its partners, or countries like Greece which he said are in "the process of just spending money".

"I am in favour of supporting the first example," Mr Schetyna told the Irish Independent.

The Polish politician warned of "turbulence" that could spread across Europe as a result of the Greek crisis. "It's also a huge test for all of us because the situation might get out of control and might cause a lot of turbulence on the European political scene," he added.

Irish Independent

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