Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande will present a united front towards Greece at talks on Thursday, telling Athens not to expect any leeway on its bailout agreement unless it sticks to its terms.
The German and French leaders are meeting to fine-tune their message to Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who begins a charm offensive trip to Berlin and Paris on Friday in the hope of persuading Europe’s big powers that Greece deserves patience.
Samaras has been giving interviews to German media stressing that while Athens may seek more time to meet austerity targets, it was not asking for more money from partners. But German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sounded a stern note.
“More time is not a solution to the problems,” Schaeuble told German radio, addressing Samaras’ hopes that his country might be given four years instead of two to push through painful economic reforms, to alleviate the impact on the Greek people.
Schaeuble warned that more time could also mean “more money” and added that Europe’s help for Greece had already “gone to the limits of what is economically viable”.