The Latest on Greece: German Central Banker Gives Warning

June 18, 2015 Updated: June 18, 2015
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13:55 a.m. (1155 GMT, 7:55 a.m. EDT)

The head of Germany’s national central bank says “there’s not much time left” for a deal to rescue Greece’s finances — and that it’s the Greeks who need to take the next step.

Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann said in an interview with three European newspapers that “now it’s up to the Greek government to decide in what direction they want to lead their country.”

Greece and other eurozone governments are in talks over conditions for more loans to enable Greece to pay its debts. A default could lead to the country leaving the euro.

Athens has balked at requests to cut public spending and run budget surpluses not counting interest payments, arguing that would smother growth.

Weidmann said a Greek withdrawal from its bailout agreement and failure to make debt repayments “would have consequences for Greece that are difficult to control.”

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12:15 a.m. (1015 GMT, 6:15 a.m. EDT)

Among officials arriving in Luxembourg for the keenly awaited eurozone meeting there is a distinct lack of optimism over the prospects of a Greek deal.

Pierre Moscovici, the European Union’s top economy official, says the meeting will be “very difficult” but that he hopes everyone turns up “with cool heads and the political will to succeed.”

While reiterating that the EU’s executive arm will do what it can do get a deal, he acknowledged that a Greek exit from the euro was being discussed by some.

“The stakes are extremely high for the Greek people and all of Europe,” he said.

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said it all depends on the Greeks: “If there are reasonable proposals, we will certainly discuss them.”

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who said this week he wouldn’t be bringing any new proposals to the meeting, refused to comment. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the eurozone’s top official, also declined to speak.

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11:40 a.m. (0940 GMT, 5:40 a.m. EDT)

Greek stocks are leading Europe markets lower as investors worry over the impasse in the country’s bailout talks.

The main index on the Athens Stock Exchange was more than 3 percent lower — bringing its losses in the past week to nearly 20 percent. Elsewhere in Europe, the main stock indexes in Germany and France were down about 1.1 percent.

Nick Kafkas, head of analysis of Merit Securities, says investors are paying close attention to today’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers: “If there is no spirit of cooperation, I think we’ll slip even lower.”

Greece’s sovereign borrowing rates remained high — an indication of concern about default, as Greece faces a debt repayment on June 30 it likely cannot afford. The yields for Greece’s 10-year, 5-year, and 2-year bonds have all risen sharply this week to rates of 13, 20 and 30 percent.

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10:45 a.m. (0845 GMT, 4:45 a.m. EDT)

The leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s parliamentary caucus says he hopes the Greek government will “see sense” and reach an agreement with its creditors.

Volker Kauder told the German Parliament it’s up to Athens to comply with the conditions for its bailout. He said that “we have really done and offered everything possible, but now it is Greece’s turn.”

He said that Europe will have problems “if everyone thinks he can do and not do what he wants and that he can blackmail the others.”

Kauder said Thursday: “this Greek government is acting against the interests of its people. You have to tell the population how things really are so that you can change things.”

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10:15 a.m. (0815 GMT, 4:15 a.m. EDT)

While his country is locked in talks with its European creditors, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is traveling to Russia on Thursday to meet President Vladimir Putin.

His visit has given ground to speculation that the Greeks could be seeking Russian loans.

Asked by The Associated Press whether Russia is going to offer Tsipras money on his visit, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said he “cannot comment on specific decisions.”

Greece is in talks with its creditors to get new loans. Without the loans, it will struggle to make a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund on June 30.

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10:10 a.m. (0810 GMT, 4:10 a.m. EDT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the eurozone is in a stronger position than it was five years ago as it grapples with the renewed crisis in Greece.

Merkel noted during a speech to the German Parliament on Thursday that Germany’s aim has always been for “Europe to come out of the crisis stronger than it went into it.”

She says the continent has come a long way — “how far can be seen in the fact that Europe is coping very differently with the current situation in Greece than it would have done five years ago, at the beginning of our reform measures.”

Merkel says “Greece has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of European solidarity in the last five years.” She stressed countries must make efforts of their own in exchange for aid.

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9:35 a.m. (0735 GMT, 3:35 a.m. EDT)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing Greece to deliver on commitments to carry out reforms, stressing before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers that she wants the country to remain in the common currency.

Merkel said in a speech to the German Parliament Thursday that Greece’s government in February “committed itself to comprehensive structural reforms. These must now be tackled with determination.”

Merkel stressed that “Germany’s efforts are directed to Greece remaining in the eurozone.” She reiterated that “where there’s a will, there’s a way — if the political leaders in Greece show this will, an agreement with the three institutions is still possible.” That was a reference to Greece’s international creditors.

Greece needs to unlock loans from its creditors before June 30, when its bailout program expires.