Eurozone finance ministers said they could not give a commitment on significant debt relief for Greece before next year’s German elections. Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble led the bloc of ministers opposed to debt relief for Greece, pouring cold water on Greek hopes that the Eurozone would keep its part of the pledge regarding reforms in exchange for relief and debt viability. German, Dutch and French governments are now pushing the decision for fiscal loosening further down the timeline so that Greece does not become an issue in their election campaigns.
This comes as a blow to embattled Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who had hoped to offer Greek people some hope that their efforts had not been in vain. In May, the Eurozone had agreed to find ways to offer Greece relief, however, despite strides in Greek reforms with privatizations, pension slashes, disability fund cuts and massive overhauls to Greece’s public sector. Nonetheless, there was no concrete pledge that the country’s debt burden would be lightened in 2018. As it is, the debt burden is monumental in Greece with most people barely scraping a living as debt is 170 percent of the country’s economic input.
Schaeuble told reporters at the Eurogroup meeting that the Eurozone has agreed on measures to shield Greece from interest rate increases but there would be no further concessions until the current assessment of its bailout conditions has ended.