France aims to facilitate Greece-euro zone talks: finance minister

January 29
3:08 AM 2015

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday France wanted to facilitate talks between Greece's new leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the rest of the euro zone, and would meet his Greek counterpart in Paris on Monday.

France's Socialist government "is well placed to be the link between the Europe we belong to, the Europe of budgetary seriousness, which wants to see commitments enforced, and the south of Europe, and in particular Greece, which suffers today and needs to find a different path from the one it has had to go back to growth and hope," Sapin said.

Tsipras, who opposes the terms of Greece's international bailout, threw down a challenge to international creditors by halting privatization plans agreed under the deal, prompting a third day of losses on financial markets on Wednesday.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said earlier on Wednesday he planned to meet European counterparts to try to work out a deal to replace the bailout program, saying this could be done without a "duel" with Europe.

It is in the new Greek government's interests "to find with us, with all European governments, the right way forward to meet the upcoming deadlines and look towards the future, including by striking new deals on new programs," Sapin said, adding "no one is talking about debt cancellation."

Paris has said it would be open to talks on making Greece's debt burden more sustainable and Tsipras is expected to meet President Francois Hollande before an EU summit on Feb. 12.

France, the euro zone's second-largest economy, has itself repeatedly missed deadlines to rein in its budget deficit to within EU norms and has been saying for months that policy should focus more on growth and less on austerity.

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