Dutch back German govt on Greek bailout terms

Reuters

By Greg Roumeliotis

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Netherlands on Friday backed Germany over the participation of the private sector in a new bailout package for debt-laden Greece, an issue that has set Berlin on a collision course with the European Central Bank.

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"We view the German proposals favorably," Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told a televised press conference in The Hague.

"The position of (German Finance Minister Wolfgang) Schaeuble and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel seems reasonable, rolling over the debt a bit and having the private sector take some of the responsibility, possibly on a voluntary basis," he said.

Germany has so far defied a warning from the European Central Bank that private sector participation in a second bailout of Greece could trigger a "credit event" that would roil financial markets.

In a letter to parliament this week, Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said it was too early to state what his country's involvement in a new bailout would be.

"We need to get more information about how strict the new package for Greece will be, whether they will take extra measures and sufficient reforms to make the economy grow again so they can repay later," De Jager told reporters following a cabinet meeting in The Hague on Friday.

"As long as these conditions have not been fulfilled, the Netherlands will not say yes to a support package for Greece," De Jager added.

Rescuing Greece from its debt woes has emerged as a divisive political issue in the Netherlands, the euro zone's fifth-largest economy, whose coalition government relies on the support of the anti-immigration and eurosceptic Freedom Party.

In a publicity stunt, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders, who opposes Dutch participation in the new bailout, attempted on Friday to deliver a 1.5-meter-long "drachma note" to the Greek embassy in The Hague, which refused to receive him.

(Additional reporting by Tjibbe Hoekstra, editing by Sara Webb and Catherine Evans)