Welcome

Crisis in Greece: EU was ready to compromise Greece

01.07.2015 - Article

Foreign Minister Steinmeier says, “The EU was ready to compromise.”

After the Greek Government decided to break off negotiations on extending the programme of assistance for Greece, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said he was “stunned” at Athens’ “zigzagging”. Meanwhile, the Federal Foreign Office updated its travel and security advice to reflect the current situation. Anyone travelling to Greece is advised to make sure they have enough cash with them before setting out and to check the Federal Foreign Office’s advice and media reports to keep up with developments.

A queue at a cash machine in Athens
A queue at a cash machine in Athens© picture alliance / dpa

The situation in Greece took a dramatic turn over the weekend after the Greek Government decided to break off its negotiations with the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Government in Athens announced on Sunday evening (28 June) that the banks and stock markets would remain closed on Monday, not to open again until next Monday (6 July) at the earliest. The announcement also stated that Greeks would in the meantime be able to withdraw no more than 60 euros per day from cash machines. Exceptions will be made for visitors to Greece.

Tourists advised to take enough cash with them

The Federal Foreign Office’s current travel and security advice for Greece warns travellers that “anyone needing to use cash machines could face significant waiting times” in the coming days. The advice also states that “shortages” in the supply of cash to ATMs are not impossible. Anyone travelling to Greece is therefore advised to make sure they have enough cash with them before setting out and to check the Federal Foreign Office’s advice and media reports to keep up with developments.

Steinmeier being interviewed in Vienna for TV show “Bericht aus Berlin”
Steinmeier being interviewed in Vienna for TV show “Bericht aus Berlin”© photothek / Thomas Imo

Europe can continue to help ...

Foreign Minister Steinmeier talked about the difficult situation in Greece on the margins of a press conference in Berlin on Tuesday (30 June). He indicated that a “fair assessment of the negotiations” would not identify the European Union or larger EU member states as having “stood in the way of compromise”. Steinmeier expressed his regret that all efforts for compromise had been “ended” by the Greek Government’s decision not only to call a referendum but to approach that referendum “with the recommendation that people vote ‘no’”.

Previously, in an interview for the weekly “Welt am Sonntag” (28 June), Foreign Minister Steinmeier had recalled that “the EU as a whole and the countries of the eurozone in particular have stood by Greece in solidarity over many years, with large loans, advice, assistance on the ground and much more”. The “accusations of a lack of solidarity” were therefore, as Steinmeier told the newspaper, “completely inappropriate”.

Speaking about the Greek Government, he said its “zigzagging” left one “stunned”. According to Steinmeier, Europe “can continue to help”, but this would depend on Greece allowing itself to be helped. It was up to the Greek Government to “assume responsibility for its people’s fate” and not to “keep fuelling illusions”, he said.

... but time is running out

In an interview on “Bericht aus Berlin”, a politics programme on TV channel ARD, Steinmeier said on Sunday evening that Europe had in every possible way signalled its desire to keep Greece in the currency union.

However, he went on, it had been Greece’s decision to withdraw from the negotiations and take the “very odd move” of holding a referendum with the Government urging people to vote “no”. Now, as Steinmeier put it, time was running out.

Steinmeier and Merkel at the Cabinet meeting on 24 June
Steinmeier and Merkel at the Cabinet meeting on 24 June© photothek / Imo

Steinmeier returns early from Iran negotiations

In view of the dramatic situation in Greece, Foreign Minister Steinmeier returned at short notice from the talks in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear programme for internal Federal Government consultations in Berlin at midday on Monday (29 June). That same afternoon, he also spoke to his Greek opposite number, Nikos Kotzias, about the situation in Greece.

Also on Monday, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel met the leaders of the parliamentary groups represented in the German Bundestag and their party leaders for a briefing on Greece. Meanwhile, at the governmental press conference, Government Spokesperson Steffen Seibert made it clear that Federal Chancellor Merkel also remained available to talk to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras should he wish it.

Find out more:

Interview with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the “Welt am Sonntag” of 28 June

Related content

Keywords