ATHENS Dec 4 Political uncertainty in Europe
has created fresh momentum for a "comprehensive and permanent"
solution to the Greek debt crisis before the year ends, a
government spokesman said on Sunday.
Euro zone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday
to discuss short-term debt relief for Greece, and Germany's
Wolfgang Schaeuble said it must implement reforms instead of
hoping for further debt forgiveness.
Greece remained optimistic for a final debt deal, however,
just as Italians are voting on a constitutional referendum on
Sunday and a victory for the opposition 'No' camp may push the
euro zone towards fresh crisis.
"Everyone realises that Europe cannot stand a rekindling of
the Greek crisis, when there are issues with Italy and amid a
pre-election period in many European countries," Dimitris
Tzanakopoulos told Athens 9,84 radio.
"The general uncertainty which prevails in Europe - which is
both political and financial - creates ... a momentum for a
comprehensive and permanent solution for the Greek issue."
Athens has received three international bailouts since 2010
and its debt, at about 180 percent of GDP, is still the highest
in the euro zone.
Talks between Athens and its official creditors as part of a
bailout review have hit a snag on labour reforms including
reviving collective bargaining on minimum wage and mass layoffs,
in a country where unemployment stands at 23 percent.
Differences also remain over a projected fiscal gap in 2018,
when Greece's programme ends, and on energy reforms.
The EU and the International Monetary Fund are at odds over
the country's fiscal targets after 2018. The IMF, which has yet
to decide if it will participate in Greece's bailout programme,
says the target is unrealistic unless Athens is granted
significant debt relief and adopts more austerity measures now.
"We've made clear that there is no chance we'll accept what
the IMF demands on (austerity) measures and labour reforms,"
Tzanakopoulos said, calling on EU partners to support Greece.
Germany, Europe's paymaster, wants the IMF to join the
programme but says Greece does not need further debt relief.
Finance minister Schaeuble urged Athens to implement
reforms: "If Greece wants to stay in the euro, there is no way
around it - in fact completely regardless of the debt level," he
told Bild am Sonntag in an interview on Sunday.
Tzanakopoulos said targets beyond 2018 could be discussed
after medium- and long-term debt relief measures were outlined.
A second Eurogroup meeting could seal the deal, he said.
The latest deadlock has sparked talk of early elections in
Greece. The government has dismissed the rumours.
(Reporting by Renee Maltezou; Editing by Clelia Oziel)