BERLIN: Germany said Sunday it expects the International Monetary Fund to continue participating in the bailout for debt-stricken Greece, despite the lender’s doubts on the issue.
Ahead of key talks over the Greek debt saga, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told ARD public television he was “starting from the principle” that the Washington-based IMF would carry on supporting Greece alongside the eurozone.
Athens said this week that it intends to reach “a political agreement in principle” with its creditors on Monday, in order to unblock loans required to repay its debts.
Schaeuble and other eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Monday, with a crucial meeting two days later in Berlin between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
Concerns over Greek debt have been rising in recent weeks, sparking fears of another eurozone crisis.
Schaeuble said he remained optimistic “because we have clear commitments which provide that if Greece fulfils its obligations” over economic reforms to cut spending and increase its revenues, “the IMF is committed” to maintaining its support.
“I think this will be achieved in the coming weeks,” he added.
Merkel’s right-hand man Peter Altmaier, the chief of staff in her chancellery, gave a similar assessment.
“For us in the German government, things are clear — we want the IMF to stay involved and we are working to ensure that this is the case,” he told the Bild newspaper.
“I think there is a good chance that we will have a solution with the participation of the IMF.”
The IMF has threatened to walk away from the bailout, saying Greece’s debts are so huge that it is unable to stay on top of the repayments. It has demanded the eurozone reduce the debt burden to make the repayments more sustainable.
The German government has been steadfast in its opposition to this — not least because such a prospect is unpopular with voters, months ahead of legislative elections.
Athens faces debt repayments of seven billion euros ($7.43 billion) this summer that it cannot afford without completing the current review of its rescue which would unblock new loans from the country’s 86-billion-euro bailout.