Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Hard Line in Berlin on Fresh Terms for Athens

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Hard Line in Berlin on Fresh Terms for Athens

Article excerpt

A top official of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party said the German Parliament was in no mood to grant Greece further concessions.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of Greece will be greeted with military honors when he arrives in Berlin on Friday, but his pleas for easier bailout terms are likely to meet a cool reception, a top German official signaled Sunday -- setting up a standoff that could unsettle financial markets next week.

Volker Kauder, a top official of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party in Germany, told the magazine Der Spiegel that Parliament was in no mood to grant Greece further concessions. "Sooner or later," said Mr. Kauder, leader of the Christian Democrat delegation in Parliament, the Greeks "must answer the question: 'Should we maybe try a little harder, or should we leave the euro?"'

Mr. Kauder said German lawmakers were unwilling to give Greece more time to meet commitments it has made in return for aid, or to ease the terms. At the same time, Mr. Samaras, who heads a fragile coalition, is under intense political pressure at home to provide relief from the austerity that has made life miserable for many Greeks.

Amid continuous political turmoil and depression-like economic conditions, Greece has not been able to meet the timetable to get government spending under control or implement changes designed to improve tax collection and create a better climate for business.

After a brief quiet period in recent weeks as most political leaders went on vacation, the euro zone faces several key events in coming weeks that could determine whether the common currency survives.

This week, there will be numerous meetings of top leaders aimed at overcoming German reluctance to measures to aid Greece and other stricken countries, like Spain. On Monday, Dimitris L. Avramopoulos, the Greek foreign minister, will meet with his counterpart in Berlin, Guido Westerwelle. …

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