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EU's Juncker fires warning to Greece on debt talks


Greece

EU's Juncker fires warning to Greece on debt talks

Brussels has warned the Greek government that it needs to make more progress in tough negotiations on financial aid with its creditors.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Friday the EU executive is “not a major player” in the talks, as decisions on future help are taken by the eurozone countries.

“I am not satisfied with the developments of the recent weeks. I don’t think that we have made sufficient progress. But we try to push in the direction of a successful conclusion,” said Juncker. “I am totally excluding a failure.”

Juncker was speaking after talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Brussels. His comments come just days after Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Greece should “stop wasting time” and get serious on reform.

Syriza leader Tsipras had hoped that Juncker could offer Greece greater flexibility on implementing the economic reforms required to tap further aid; his left-wing party came to power at the end of January having campaign on a platform to roll back some of the austerity measures that were part of a condition of previous bailout packages.

“We are in a very critical period but we are optimistic that we will manage to address the expectations of the Greek society, the mandate of the people and the oath we’ve given. Today it was a positive day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Greece has once again raised the question of Germany paying reparations for crimes committed under the Nazis.

Greek Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos has said that the Syriza government is prepared to go to court and seize German property in the country if Berlin does not pay the 314 billion euros in compensation that officials are seeking.

The idea drew a stinging response from Jeroen Dijsselbloem on Friday, who also chairs the informal Eurogroup body, which discusses economic matters effecting the single currency.

“The point is that in Greece, too much of the fault for the problems of Greece is laid outside Greece … Germany is the favorite victim of that at the moment,” he was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

Athens wants to convince its international creditors to relax the conditions of its 240-billion-euro bailout. But estimates say that the country could be insolvent within a matter of weeks unless it receives fresh funds.

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