February 20, 2012 / 2:33 PM / 7 years ago

Euro zone ministers, officials before Greek talks

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone finance ministers and officials arrived on Monday to discuss a second bailout package for Greece. They were expected to approve a package of aid to draw a line under months of turmoil that has shaken the currency bloc. But technical issues remained outstanding before the meeting.

Following are comments by ministers and officials before the talks:

EUROGROUP PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER

ON PROSPECTS FOR A GREECE DEAL ON MONDAY:

“I would like to assume that we can reach final and concluding negotiations today. The Greek side has fulfilled many preparatory efforts we had demanded. We have to conclude today, there’s no more time to waste.

“There are still questions as to how much the public sector can contribute and how we will handle the issue of private creditors in detail, and we will have to talk about the total volume of the second program. We can’t exceed 130 billion.”

ON GREEK EFFORTS:

“Greece has obviously made significant efforts, and now we need to continue the work and that the entirety of the elements, particularly furnished by the other parties, are also put into place.”

ON HOPES FOR A DEAL ON MONDAY:

“We are here, ready to conclude today this long process on the new Greek program, and also we are ready to initiate the official procedure on the PSI (private sector involvement). I am optimistic, but in any case we need the clear political approval from the Eurogroup.”

ON PROSPECTS FOR AN AGREEMENT ON MONDAY:

“If there weren’t anything to discuss we wouldn’t have a meeting...Today we are aiming to finalize the decision on a new rescue package for Greece. The state secretaries have prepared it well but there are still some details we have to talk about.

“We still need clarity on the involvement of private creditors about a program to make sure that Greece will not exceed a debt level of 120 percent of GDP by the year 2020. There is still some work to do and we have to make sure that the program is implemented. I’m confident.”

ON GREEK REFORMS:

“There will be an intensive debate about the monitoring and how we can see whether Greece can implement what we have agreed. If Greece does not implement the measures we have asked for then it won’t be able to return to growth. The most important is for Greece to grow, that the administration becomes more efficient and leaner, that jobs are created. Only then Greece can recover.”

ON MONITORING:

“We will confer about how this is done, on the one hand by a permanent monitoring in view of the implementation of the measures and also a check on where the money is going. It should not happen again, what happened in the past, that billions go to Greece and it is put into consumption and that no infrastructure, no modernization of the state and no regional development is created.”

ON THE FUNDING GAP:

“We will talk about this, and also about whether there will be more support from PSI. We don’t know how many will take part yet, and also how the gap will be filled by national banks or the European Central Bank (ECB). Looking at the official side, I believe states can’t make any more taxes available, that would overburden the states. We would have problems getting that through parliament.”

ON MONITORING GREEK REFORMS:

“It’s important for us that we introduce monitoring...a system of supervision which ensures that, together with the Greeks, this program is implemented after the elections.”

ON PROSPECTS FOR AN AGREEMENT ON MONDAY:

“Today we have all the elements we need to reach a deal. It’s like a puzzle. All the pieces are on the table; what’s needed now is to put them together and that we will try to do this afternoon.”

ON REFORM IN GREECE:

“Greece, through its parliament and the coalition, has made the commitments which we expected of it. Greece will have to continue down this path toward control over its own structural reforms, and we, in our role as creditors, will have to continue to accompany it. This is the point of the meeting.

“We have a chance tonight to present a fixed picture of what is needed to accompany Greece forward in its new program.”

ON GREECE’S IMPLEMENTATION OF REFORMS:

“Greece, in principle, has done everything that was needed. It is important how it will be in the future. Guarantees of implementation of pledges will be important.

“The biggest problem, very likely, will be whether the two parameters debt of around 120 percent of GDP and a 130 billion euro cap (on an aid package) will be preserved.”

ON GREECE’S IMPLEMENTATION OF PLEDGES:

“There are many risks. The biggest one, very likely, is the relevance of this commitment after Greece’s upcoming election.”

ON CONDITIONS FOR DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS TO GREECE:

“Greece wants the money and so far we haven’t given them anything. We have said no over the past weeks. We can afford to say to no until Greece has met all the demands. It’s up to Greece and the Troika (of the ECB, the IMF and the European Commission) to say whether this has been done and for us it is a no until Greece has done so. If Greece lives up to all its obligations, then The Netherlands will also do its part.

ON A PERMANENT TROIKA PRESENCE IN GREECE:

“When you look at the derailments in Greece which have happened several times now, it’s probably necessary that there is some kind of permanent presence of the Troika in Athens not every three months but on a permanent basis.

ON IMPLEMENTATION OF REFORMS:

“We will see to a rigid and very strict implementation of those demands and only then will we make the next step.

“I am in favor of more control, more supervision...Money is the thing we can control Greece with.”

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunet, Ben Deighton, Annika Breidthardt, John O'Donnell, Charlie Dunmore, Martin Santa and Nicholas Vinocur. Editing by Sebastian Moffett.

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