BERLIN German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was quoted in a newspaper interview on Sunday saying that Greece has made strong progress towards introducing reforms that could lead to the imminent release of further financial support.
"If the Greek government upholds all the agreements, European finance ministers could complete the review on May 22 and then soon after that release the next tranche," Schaeuble told the Funke media group newspapers.
Greece and its international creditors reached a preliminary agreement at a meeting of euro zone finance ministers in April to set up the next transfer of some 7 billion euros in aid. But the finance ministers will not release the tranche until the audit is completed.
"The longer it takes, the more uncertainty will be in the financial markets and economy," Schaeuble added.
He said the Greek government had promised to make further adjustments in pensions as well as improve tax collection.
Asked why he was optimistic the aid could soon be released, Schaeuble said, "Because we negotiated in a very determined fashion and the Greek government said it would adjust the pensions more strongly to the economic situation.
"That's not easy - I know that. And it wants to improve the tax collection system so that tax revenues will rise again from 2020."
(Reporting by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)