August 21, 2013
(AP) A top European Central Bank official was heading to Athens on Wednesday to discuss progress on Greece's fiscal reforms as it became increasingly likely that the country will need more help once its bailout program ends next year.
Joerg Asmussen, one of the ECB's six executive board members, is to meet on Wednesday afternoon with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. He will hold talks on Thursday with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos.
His visit comes just a day after Germany's finance minister said the country will need another rescue program, his clearest statement yet on the issue. He did not specify what form the new aid would take, but ruled out a write-down on Greece's public debt, which is now mainly bailout loans owed to other European governments.
Olli Rehn, the top monetary official at the European Commission, the EU executive branch, did not rule out the possibility of another bailout.
The Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat says he told them in an email Tuesday that the Commission, the ECB and the International Monetary Fund will jointly evaluate Greece's financing needs this autumn.
"In that context we shall also assess a possible extension of the Greek program and its funding," the paper quoted him as saying. "One way to improve debt sustainability would be by extending the maturity of loans. A key issue that remains is whether Greece is able to implement the current reforms and achieve a primary balance in public finances," he said.