BRUSSELS, May 24 (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers meet on Tuesday to discuss whether Greece has passed sufficient reforms to unblock new loans and how international lenders might grant Athens debt relief. To meet the conditions for the loans, without which Greece would again default in July, the government introduced pension and income tax reforms, as well as measures to privatise state assets and deal with bad loans. The following are comments from the finance ministers and top EU officials arriving for Tuesday’s meeting.
GERMAN FINANCE MINISTER WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE ON GREEK REFORMS
“We will have a decision. I am confident we will get an agreement in substance today, with technical, detailed work afterwards. We will see.”
“Without the IMF on board, there is no programme... Of course we have partly different positions, but it is not a conflict, it is a difference.”
“If debt sustainability in a few years is not what we are expecting now... then we will have to find a path. Who is right, we will have to see. In the past the pessimistic assumptions of the IMF were not always right.”
“We take the decisions when we take them. The decisions for 2016 we will take in 2016. If we need to take decisions in 2018, we will take them then.”
“In 2016, I am the finance minister. In 2018, we have parliamentary elections, which I cannot predict. So we will take the decisions when they need to be made. Now I have the legitimacy and in 2018 it will be for those who the German people have chosen in 2017.”
CHAIRMAN OF EURO ZONE FINANCE MINISTERS JEROEN DIJSSELBLOEM
”Today we are going to hear from he institutions whether all the reforms have been implemented in the right way, but I think the Greek government has done a lot of work, certainly since the summer and in the last weeks also, pushing forward reforms, difficult measures and getting them through parliament., So I hope there is full agreement between the institutions and that we can move on in the programme.
”The purpose of today’s meeting is to get that agreement with the IMF (between the euro zone and the IMF on debt relief).
“No, I think that would be very difficult. Many countries in the Eurogroup have always expressed that they would like the IMF to be on board. The IMF is very experienced in running programmes, the IMF is very precise in assessing the situation in Greece and whether Greece sticks to its commitments, so that there is real added value to have he IMF on board, so it is not an option to go on without the IMF. There is a reason to look at debt relief because the debt is very high and there will be some problems in the future. The debt analysis shows that . How big these problems are and how we can deal with them and when we can deal with them that’s today’s topic.”
“We hope that we will be able to really reach agreement in principle and which then, subject to fulfilment of certain conditions, would allow disbursement of the next tranche within the Greek programme.”
“Another important element will be IMF participation in the programme where we are willing to work very constructively and assist the IMF’s full participation in the programme and (answer) questions as regards debt measures, debt restructuring.”
Reforms adopted by Greece in the last hours “represent a considerable and bold effort.”
“At the same time the Greeks have voted a contingency mechanism that we believe fulfils the criteria fixed at the Eurogroup in Amsterdam”.
“This could pave the way for a sufficient disbursement which the Commission would support”.
Today we need “a deal on all issues.”
“We will address as close as possible the issue of the Greek debt. We need a deal on the programme, a deal on the payments due to Greece and a deal on the future treatment of the Greek debt.”
“I‘m expecting an agreement in principle on Greece subject to some technical review in the next couple of weeks”.
“I think Greece has put a lot of new measures through the parliament and I think that’s probably sufficient to make the requirements of the group here in principle.”
”Many things remain open and unresolved. We should focus on disbursement, on agreement on the tranche and we would also like to conclude the review, conditionally maybe, but just concluding is crucial for us.
“Talking about debt measures and IMF participation, I can imagine to wait for a later stage with these issues.” (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, Francesco Guarascio, Philip Blenkinsop, Tom Korkemeier)