German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have stepped up the pressure on Greece to accept the painful terms of a new EU/IMF $171 billion rescue package, saying there would be no further bailout unless all Greek political parties endorse the deal.
The heads of the three political parties in Greece’s national unity government have delayed a planned meeting to agree reforms until Tuesday, the prime minister’s office said, according to the Financial Times.
A government official said more last-minute details needed to be worked out on the text of the 50-page medium-term fiscal program that the three conservative, socialist and far-right leaders must approve.
Speaking in Paris on Monday, Merkel highlighted the exasperation among European leaders at the meandering negotiations and endless arguing in Athens, which have yet to produce agreement and acceptance of the austerity and reform measures demanded by lenders before Greece can receive further emergency funds.
“I honestly can’t understand how additional days will help. Time is of the essence. A lot is at stake for the entire euro zone,” she said, at a press conference with Sarkozy, Reuters reported.
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For his part, the French president urged Greece’s political leaders to agree to the reforms, stating that the crisis had to be resolved “once and for all.”
“Europe is a place where everyone has their rights and duties. Time is running out, it needs to be concluded, it needs to be signed,” he said, according to the BBC.
Greece’s technocrat Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is scrambling to avert a chaotic Greek default on $19 billion worth of loan repayments due to private lenders on March 20.
He needs party leaders’ backing for tough IMF and EU reforms demanded in exchange for a bailout, but with elections potentially set to take place in April his coalition partners are loathe to associate themselves too closely with austerity measures that will lower struggling Greeks’ standard of living.
In a sign of their low confidence in Greece’s political chiefs, Sarkozy and Merkel called today for Athens to establish a separate, closed account to ensure that the billions of IMF and EU rescue funds are used directly to service debt and not for other government spending priorities, according to the Associated Press.
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