Momentum is building to grant Greece debt relief, as the country struggles with painful reform measures to unlock a new round of bailout cash from its European and international creditors.
Ahead of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in Brussels on Monday, Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, urged the ministers to immediately discuss plans for debt relief. In a letter obtained by Handelsblatt, Ms. Lagarde warned that the IMF’s continued involvement in a third aid program for Greece is uncertain if the country’s European partners refuse to grant Athens substantial relief of its debt.
Her comments come just as Greece approved a new major package of pension and tax reforms. Ms. Lagarde said it is “unrealistic” to demand further cuts and austerity measures from the Greeks that go beyond those commitments already made, she wrote in the letter.
Germany’s vice chancellor and economics minister, Sigmar Gabriel, echoed the same view in a weekend interview with Reuters, saying it made no sense to crush the sprouts of economic recovery in Greece with further austerity measures.
“The euro group meeting on Monday must find a way to break the vicious circle,” Mr. Gabriel said in an interview with Reuters. “Everyone knows that this debt relief will have to come at some point. It makes no sense to shirk from that time and time again.”