German ministers pressure Athens over reforms

Three German ministers urged Greece to show through its actions that it wants to remain in the eurozone, with one suggesting that the country’s exit from the single currency is no longer a scary prospect. German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said in an interview with Germany’s ARD television on Sunday that fears about a disorderly Greek default and exit from the eurozone are dying down. “It’s in the hands of the Greeks,” he said. “D-Day is less and less scary,” he added later in the interview. Roesler said that Greece had to make more of an effort to conduct structural reforms. “We are ready to help. But once again, we have and want only to help if there is something in return from the Greek side,” he said “Other countries -- Portugal and Spain -- are much more engaged than their colleagues in Greece,” he added. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told Der Spiegel that “it is not enough to adopt the reform program. It is also necessary to begin without delay the implementation of these reforms.” Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said that Greece would have to quickly show through its actions that it deserves a new bailout package. “The promises from Greece aren’t enough for us anymore,” he said. Schaeuble pointed out that German opinion polls show a majority of Germans are willing to help Greece. “But it’s important to say that it cannot be a bottomless pit. That’s why the Greeks have to finally close that pit. And then we can put something in there. At least people are now starting to realize it won’t work with a bottomless pit.” Schaeuble said Greece would be supported “one way or another” but warned the country needs to improve its competitiveness and hinted it might have to leave the eurozone to do that. “Greece needs to do its own homework to become competitive -- whether that happens in conjunction with a new rescue program or by another route that we actually don’t want to take...” He said that the rescue efforts for Greece are turning out to be more difficult than efforts associated with German reunification in 1990.

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