BERLIN, May 22 (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday urged euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund to give Greece enough fiscal room to make growth-oriented investments in education, infrastructure and research and development.
Speaking alongside visiting French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Gabriel said the Eurogroup must grant Greece debt relief in exchange for reforms demanded by its international lenders.
“In 2016 the Eurogroup promised the prospect of debt relief to Greece for 2018. The Greeks have achieved incredible things since then,” Gabriel said. “The Greeks were always told if you do this then it will become necessary to give you debt relief. And I think it is now time to make this concrete.”
Gabriel, a Social Democrat, has criticized conservative Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s handling of the Greek debt crisis, namely his insistence that giving Greece debt relief could encourage it to forfeit necessary reforms.
He added: “They have implemented their measures. Now it’s time for the IMF and the Eurogroup to agree with the (European) Commission...that the debt servicing must not be so big that nothing remains for growth, creating jobs, for research, for development, for education, for infrastructure.” (Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Paul Carrel)