Merkel Speech on Greece Said Aimed at Avoiding Escalation

Merkel Sees Possible Deal If Greece Keeps Promises

Angela Merkel plans to steer clear of confrontation with Greece in a speech to German lawmakers that will attempt to tone down the rhetoric over financing Europe’s most indebted country, according to a person familiar with the government’s strategy.

Merkel’s address to parliament’s lower house in Berlin on Thursday will avoid rebukes for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government that could lead to escalation, said the person, asking not to be named because the speech content is private until it is delivered. She’ll instead lay out the current state of play in a dispassionate fashion, the person said.

The German chancellor’s effort to take the tension down a notch reflects her calm amid a hardening of attitudes that suggests a deal between creditors and Greece will prove elusive at a meeting of euro-area finance ministers on Thursday. Failure to break the deadlock then would shift the onus to Merkel and other leaders at a European Union summit scheduled next week just days before Greece’s bailout expires on June 30.

In her speech, Merkel will remind Greece of the reform measures which have still to be fulfilled in return for the bailout money that is needed to avert default, the person familiar said. She’ll deliver no great surprises, but rather stick to her central message that she’ll strive to keep Greece in the euro, yet Greece must do something itself to stay in the currency region, according to the person.

Bild, Germany’s most-read newspaper, ran a mock version of the speech in Wednesday’s edition that would have Merkel rule out more aid for Greece and refuse to be “blackmailed.”

Asked whether the speech would reflect Bild’s tone, Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said it would “as usual” be formulated in the chancellery.

“Beyond that, just wait and see,” he said.

Merkel is scheduled to deliver her speech previewing the EU summit to the lower-house chamber at 9 a.m. in Berlin.

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