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June 28, 2017

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Enough 'Greek bashing': German FM

HONG KONG -- German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Friday called for an end to "Greek bashing" and said he had confidence that Athens would carry out the painful reforms required to prevent a eurozone exit.

But he also ruled out any concessions to help the country meet austerity targets imposed in exchange for EU-IMF loans, saying that would undermine confidence in the bloc's efforts to overcome its debt crisis.

"We do not want to be part of this Greek bashing because it is really a challenge for them," he told a forum during a visit to Hong Kong, on the sidelines of German leader Angela Merkel's trip to mainland China.

"I feel for the people on the streets in Greece and I have a lot of sympathy with the fate in Greece, because the people are not responsible for what their political leaders missed in the last decades."

He added that Greece had been "criticized enough worldwide" and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras deserved credit for ploughing ahead with fiscal reform, including a proposed new round of cuts worth 11.5 billion euros (US$14.4 billion).

"Why don't we take Prime Minister Samaras at his word? He said he will deliver so I think it's not fair to make a judgment before we have the report of the troika," he said, referring to the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, its creditors.

Greece's coalition government has yet to agree on the final details of new austerity measures to be implemented in 2013 and 2014, which include more cuts in salaries, pensions and benefits.

According to the Greek finance ministry, the savings will be finalized with the troika.

The measures are expected to be presented at an informal meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Cyprus on Sept. 14.

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