Germany 'open' to extending Greece's bailout program

BERLIN – Germany has urged Greek leftist leader Alexis Tsipras to continue with its austerity "reform program" and expressed its readiness to discuss extending Greece's "bailout" plan which runs out at the end of February.

The comments came after Greece’s radical-left Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras won 36.3 percent of the vote the country's elections the day before, and agreed with the right-wing Independent Greeks party to form an "anti-austerity" coalition government.

Both parties opposed the austerity measures imposed by the "Troika", but German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a press conference on Monday: "From our point of view it is important that the new government honors the commitments already made and proceed with the reforms."

German government spokesman Seibert declined to make comment on the outcome of the elections and coalition talks between Syriza and right-wing Independent Greeks, saying only that Germany respected the sovereign decision of the Greek electorate.

- 'No debt relief'

Seibert praised the achievements of the previous Greek government for budgetary discipline and structural economic reforms, and expressed hope that the new government would continue with the reform course laid down by the Troika of the IMF, European Central Bank and European Commission.

Marianne Kothe, deputy spokesperson for the German Finance Ministry, also said the ministry was ready to discuss a possible bailout extension.

“In principle, that is an option,” she said at a press conference.

But she also underlined that any possible extension would require a request by the new government of Greece and have to be decided by European partners.

Kothe ruled out any new debt relief for Greece, stressing that Germany had not changed its position on the suggestion.

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