German FM sees second chance for Greece

The first meeting between German and Greek government officials since Sunday’s elections in Greece will take place on Monday, when Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos is due to meet his counterpart Guido Westerwelle, who told Kathimerini Friday that Athens was “being given a second chance.”

The meeting between the two men is due to take place on the sidelines of the European Union foreign ministers’ council in Luxembourg. It will be the first opportunity for the new Greek government to discuss possible changes to the terms of Greece’s bailout with officials from Berlin. It is not clear whether Avramopoulos will raise the issue in any detail.

Speaking to Kathimerini as part of a joint interview with El Mundo, Corriere della Serra, The Times and Le Figaro, Westerwelle urged Greece to proceed with structural reforms but accepted time had been lost as a result of the May 6 and June 17 elections. The German minister suggested that this could lead to changes in the loan terms but said everyone had to wait for officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund -- collectively known as the troika -- to deliver their report.

“The new Greek government has a historic responsibility to implement reforms,” he said. “We need implementation and tangible results.

“This is a second chance for Greece and the eurozone in general,” Westerwelle added, pointing to a missed opportunity when ex-Prime Minister George Papandreou proposed a referendum last November a few days after a new bailout had been agreed for Greece.

“Now Greeks have voted in favor of pro-European reforms and it is the second time that the conditions are very favorable,” he said. “Let’s not miss this chance.” 

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