German Official Rebuts Samaras, Says New Greece Aid Conditional

A senior ranking German parliamentary official rejected Greek hopes of securing more aid without additional austerity measures, rebutting an earlier statement by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

“Should Greece need further help it’s perfectly clear that it would be linked to new terms,” said Michael Meister, deputy parliamentary chairman of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, in a telephone interview today. “There would definitely be no new program without conditions.”

Additional aid for Greece would be provided under terms of the existing program and won’t be tied to new austerity strictures, Ethnos newspaper on Sept. 7 cited Samaras as saying. Greece may need 10 billion euros ($13.3 billion) in additional help after the current program expires, Finance Minister Giannis Stournaras told Proto Thema newspaper on Aug. 24.

The government agreed to reform measures that run to 2016 when it accepted the program, Stournaras also told the newspaper, ruling out fresh conditions when it ends in 2014.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Aug. 20 said Greece may need a new program, its third since since 2010 after the existing program expires in mid-2014. Chancellor Angela Merkel also referred to a new program in her Sept. 1 television debate with election rival Social Democrat Peer Steinbrueck.

Merkel, whose lead over her Social Democratic challenger Peer Steinbrueck has narrowed less than two weeks before national elections Sept. 22, said yesterday that Germany expects “self-help” from partners like Greece as a condition for help. The “first signs” of recovery are discernible there, she said.

A majority of Germans, or 63 percent, consider the “worst part” of the euro region’s debt crisis is yet to come, while 32 percent said the crisis has peaked, according to a poll of 1,003 voters run by Infratest Dimap on July 29 and July 30.

Another 69 percent said they “trust” Merkel’s ability to navigate Germany unscathed through the crisis. The Christian Democrat leader’s recent comments on Greece focus on its first shoots of economic recovery.

Greece must fulfill the conditions of the current program or forgo further aid, said Meister, who’s defending his constituency in the state of Hesse. If Greece doesn’t pass all the conditions on the aid score card “any discussion about further help is over,” he said.

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