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Eurozone wants Greeks to give written pledge on reforms

BRUSSELS, Jan 24 – The eurozone wants Greek political parties to commit to economic reforms in writing before Athens can receive a second bailout, Austria’s finance minister said Tuesday.

“The IMF will work on a new programme with the Greeks, but we will only be able to agree on it if the ruling parties and the other parties agree on it. This has to be in writing,” Maria Fekter said.

“Only if we have this written statement will there be further aid,” she said on arrival for a second day of talks among European Union finance ministers in Brussels.

Other European finance ministers piled pressure on Greece to forge ahead with structural reforms and also demanded that the country’s private creditors make sacrifices by accepting a massive debt writedown.

“It’s quite clear that the implementation in Greece has failed,” said Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg, whose country is not part of the eurozone but participated in a first bailout of Greece in May 2010.

“When it comes to structural reform, when it comes to fiscal reform they have not delivered,” he said.

After a first day of talks that ended late Monday, Luxembourg Premier Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of eurozone finance ministers, said the Greek programme was “off track.”

With Greece locked in complex negotiations with banks, Juncker said the private sector should agree to bond swap deal with an interest rate well below the 4.0 percent the creditors were asking.

“I think it is a difficult deal and I think that banks must realise that their negotiation position is not that strong,” Borg said.

Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said: “Greece and the banks have to do more in order to reach a sustainable debt level. And we have to await the discussions about that because a sustainable debt level is absolutely a precondition for the next programme.”

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Eurozone leaders offered Greece last year a new, 130-billion-euro rescue package conditioned on a debt writedown with private lenders worth 100 billion euros.

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