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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Or maybe not....

Merkel Says Greek Diplomatic Offensive Is Failing

German Chancellor Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
(Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated that a diplomatic offensive by newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to ease his nation’s bailout-aid requirements is failing to win over converts.

“I don’t think that the positions of the member states within the euro area with regard to Greece differ, at least in terms of substance,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday. Later in Paris, Tsipras was told by French President Francois Hollande that “respecting the rules is necessary for all, for France too, and it’s not always easy.”

While Tsipras has retreated from demands for a writedown of Greece’s debt, yielding to virtually unanimous opposition in the 19-member bloc, his pledge to increase spending threatens to collide with conditions of aid commitments totaling 240 billion euros ($275 billion).

Tsipras and his finance chief, Yanis Varoufakis, will have visited seven European cities between them this week after their Syriza party’s anti-austerity campaign swept them into office, upending Greece’s political establishment. Their demands for overhauling the terms of Greece’s bailout package have been met with resistance and alarm in Berlin and Brussels.

“We’re not a threat to Europe,” Tsipras said at the press conference with Hollande. “We’re proposing mutually acceptable, viable solutions on the debt question.”
Varoufakis met today with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi in Frankfurt, where he said he had “very fruitful” talks over the ECB’s support of the Greek banking system.

United Front

Calling himself “the finance minister of a bankrupt country,” Varoufakis sought support from counterparts in Paris, London and Rome before venturing into more hostile territory. He’ll sit down tomorrow with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin. Tsipras has encountered officials in Nicosia, Cyprus, Paris, Rome and Brussels.

Merkel said she’s “looking forward” to meeting Tsipras at a meeting of the European Union’s 28 members on Feb. 12 in Brussels and that she’s already spoken to Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi regarding the euro area’s position on Greece.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic-led bloc in parliament has agreed not to give in to any “bad compromise” that “defacto adds up to a debt writedown,” Hans-Peter Friedrich, a deputy leader of the caucus, said in an interview today.

“Greece, not Germany, is under time pressure,” Friedrich said, citing the Greek government’s cash requirements following the end of the current round of bailout funding at the end of the month. Tsipras and Varoufakis “aren’t in a position to make demands, let alone try blackmailing tactics,” he said.

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