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UPDATE: Germany Stresses Quality Over Speed As Greece Nears Bailout Deal

Berlin/BRUSSELS (Alliance News) - Germany believes that Greece's creditors should not be in any ...

Alliance News 10 August, 2015 | 12:51PM
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Berlin/BRUSSELS (Alliance News) - Germany believes that Greece's creditors should not be in any rush to reach a new bailout deal with Athens, stressing on Monday that quality should take precedence over speed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said "comprehensiveness rather [than] speed" should form the basis of the talks, noting the number of reforms that have to be considered and the length of the proposed rescue plan, which is expected to run for three years.

His comments on the possible 86-billion-euro (94.3-billion-dollar) bailout came amid signs that cash-strapped Athens and its creditors could be close to reaching a deal for Greece's third rescue package in five years.

The negotiating teams are "working day and night ... to finalize a text of a memorandum of understanding and an additional list of prior actions which the Greek authorities could legislate shortly," European Commission spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said in Brussels.

The EU's executive is representing Greece's creditors in the talks, alongside the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund.

"The institutions are working hand-in-hand with the Greek authorities ... We expect further progress throughout the day and beyond as talks continue to resolve the remaining issues," Breidthardt added.

She expressed hope that a deal can be reached before August 20, when Greece will have to make a critical 3.2-billion-euro debt repayment to the ECB. The near-bankrupt country does not currently have enough funds to cover the payment.

Expectations are high that an agreement between Athens and its creditors on the bailout and related reform requirements will be reached within 24 to 36 hours, an EU source said at midday on Monday.

"We're making surprising progress," the source said on condition of anonymity, adding that delaying a deal would be "in nobody's interest."

If negotiators reach an agreement in principle on Tuesday, the Greek parliament could then vote on Thursday, the source said.

Eurozone finance ministers would also have to endorse the deal. They are "likely" to meet on Friday, another source said, adding that the meeting is not yet confirmed, but would "probably" take place in Brussels.

A German Finance Ministry spokesman emphasized that while Berlin was ready for a quick end to the talks, quality was more important than speed.

He stressed the need for Athens and its creditors to reach agreement on sustainable pension reforms as well privatization of key Greek state assets.

The comments also reflect the concerns of many voters in Germany about pumping more taxpayers' money into Greece. Germany has been the biggest contributor to the last two rescue package.

In addition to the eurozone finance ministers, several parliaments in the eurozone, including Germany's Bundestag, have to sign off on any new rescue plan.

German parliamentary votes this year have underlined how support has been waning for further aid to Greece among the 311 lawmakers in Merkel's bloc.

In July, a more-than-expected 60 lawmakers from the chancellor's parliamentary faction, which includes her Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian-based Christian Social Union (CSU) allies, rebelled and rejected the planned three-year bailout.

In February, 29 members of the CDU-CSU bloc voted to reject a four-month extension for Greece's second bailout.

Germany's top court has ruled that the Bundestag has to agree to any new financial aid for debt-hit eurozone states such as Greece.

Highlighting the tensions in the CDU-CSU, lawmakers in Merkel's party reacted angrily on Monday to a call by one her closest allies for those voting against the government on a Greek deal to stand down from key parliamentary posts.

"Those who vote 'no' cannot stay members of (parliamentary) committees, in which it is important to maintain a majority, such as the budget or European affairs committees," the CDU's parliamentary faction leader Volker Kauder told the Sunday Bild newpaper.

But parliamentarians hit back with one CDU lawmaker, Alexander Funk, telling Bild on Monday that Kauder's comments "disqualified him" from his post as faction leader.

Copyright dpa

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