BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Angela Merkel will have the chance to meet Greece’s new leader Alexis Tsipras at a European Union summit on Feb. 12, while their two finance ministers will meet in coming days, officials said on Monday.
“The German government is looking forward to meeting the new Greek Prime Minister, there is no specific request for a meeting but there will be opportunities,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz told reporters, adding that Berlin was waiting to hear the Greek government’s ideas.
“There is a willingness and interest in having good relations with the Greek government, but Germany will stand by the foundations of its euro policy,” Wirtz added.
Tsipras’s Syriza party swept to power just over a week ago having promised to cancel austerity imposed under Greece’s EU/IMF bailout and restructure the country’s huge debts.
But on Saturday Merkel ruled out a debt writedown for Athens, telling daily Die Welt Europe would continue to show solidarity with Greece if it undertook reforms and savings.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s spokeswoman Marianne Kothe said new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis had announced he would be coming to Berlin “in coming days” to meet Schaeuble but there was no schedule for the meeting yet.
Asked about reports that Varoufakis did not want to extend Greece’s 240 billion euro bailout beyond the end of February and would deliver a concept by May, Kothe said Berlin would listen to his ideas.
“The existing program has been extended until the end of February. There is time to exchange ideas, and to hear each others’ positions.”
Both spokeswomen dismissed suggestions in a report in German newspaper Handelsblatt on Monday that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wanted to scrap the troika mission from international lenders that governs Greece’s bailout.
“The German government sees no reason to scrap this mechanism of evaluation by the troika, then political decisions made on the basis of the troika’s findings -- and we also see no indications that the EU is distancing itself from this evaluative process,” Wirtz said.
Reporting by Stephen Brown and Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Michael Nienaber and Catherine Evans