Schäuble deflates hopes for Greek debt deal

With an important meeting of eurozone finance ministers looming, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said "it's over" if Greece refuses to accept the next tranche of the troika's bailout package.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said Tuesday that Greece would have to fulfill all commitments to its international creditors if it wants to continue enlisting European help for its debt problem.

Speaking to journalists in Istanbul after a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 largest economies, Schäuble said he expected the Greek government to have a clear plan ready for review by the time the eurozone's finance ministers convene on Wednesday.

"We're not negotiating a new program. We already have a program," he said, denying earlier reports by the news wire MNSI that Athens and the European Commission were nearing a deal under which Greece would be given more time to come to an agreement with its creditors.

At the G20 summit, some leaders seemed to be pushing for Germany to back of its hawkish stance, but Schäuble's comments suggested that Germany was maintaining its hard line vis-à-vis the current terms of Greece's bailout.

When asked about the prospect of Greece failing to reach an interim deal with its European lenders and the International Monetary Fund, Schäuble said, "Fine. We never imposed that on anyone. Not a problem at all. But then it's over."

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis will formally outline his government's plans to his other eurozone counterparts on Wednesday in Brussels.

Some financial analysts believe it is possible Athens could woo a compromise out of its creditors, possibly involving an extension of debt maturities and a cut in Greece's primary surplus, but not everyone is convinced.

On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Greeks shouldn't get their hopes up that Europe would bow to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

cjc/sri (Reuters, AFP, dpa)