German Finance Minister: Greek Debt Relief Must be Tied to Growth Plan



German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz

Any debt-relief measures for Greece will be discussed only after Athens presents a credible program that focuses on growth, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has said.

The German finance minister, interviewed in Sunday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said Berlin’s position — and the position of his predecessor, Wolfgang Schaeuble — was that any Greek debt easing must be connected to reforms.

Scholz said that before any debt talks, Greece must meet all bailout prerequisites by the summer.

At the same time, Scholz said that since Germany has a stable economy, it can help countries with fiscal problems, underlining that the eurozone should not give these states the wrong incentives.

“Every decision should ensure the stability of the Monetary Union and that the banking system will not be jeopardized,” he said.

Scholz said that the most urgent reform the eurozone needs is the transformation of the European Stability Mechanism into a European Monetary Fund, with guaranteed control by the national parliaments of the eurozone.

Asked about French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for a common European budget and a European finance minister, Scholz replied that “the French president knows that not all of his proposals will be implemented.

“We will now look at what is feasible without exhausting the possibilities for individual actions.”

However, he added, every eurozone member should follow the same path, and he rejected the idea of a Europe of two speeds.