Luc Frieden, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance
Dubai - Arabstoday
A total collapse of Greece's financial system is in nobody's interest and therefore all stakeholders in Europe are pushing for a viable debt deal at the earliest, Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden said yesterday.Speaking at a conference titled ‘Dubai and Luxembourg, a Partnership for
Financial Services', Frieden said many of Europe's long-term financial challenges are being addressed through a move towards stronger fiscal union, agreement on overall debt reduction and longer term funding to restructure the sovereign debts of countries in distress.
"The immediate concern of Europe is restructuring Greek sovereign debt. We are very close to finding an agreement that will be acceptable to Greece, Eurozone countries and the private creditors," Frieden said.
European leaders agreed on Monday on a permanent Eurozone rescue fund and most endorsed stricter budget discipline.
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However, leaders left the Brussels summit late on Monday without reaching an accord fixing Greece's widening budget hole. German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced her frustration with Athens' failure to agree to an economic makeover.
While the talks with Greece over a debt write-down and its economic management are understood to be nearing a consensus, European leaders agreed to accelerate the setting up of a full-time €500 billion (Dh2.41 trillion) rescue fund and endorsed a deficit-control treaty.
Greece is counting on aid to meet a €14.5 billion bond payment on March 20 to avoid default. The aid is conditional on the government and feuding opposition parties agreeing on a debt swap deal with private bondholders.
If the deal goes through, Greece's private creditors are likely to face up to a 70 per cent reduction in the value of their bonds.
Stocks and the euro rose yesterday as Greek and European leaders asserted that a Greek default will be averted and Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said he's "strongly committed" to reaching a debt-swap pact with bondholders.
Frieden said his meetings in Qatar and the UAE did not discuss the potential participation of GCC countries in finding a solution to the European debt crisis.
While the Greek debt deal is taking long to conclude, investors are growing weary of the economic health of countries such as Portugal, Italy and Spain.
As the European Central Bank's bond buying programme stabilised, yields on shorter maturity debt (below three years) and longer maturity papers widened to unprecedented levels. Bankers attributed the rising yields on longer term European debts to rising market fears of losses arising from potential restructuring of longer term debts.