Greece debt crisis: Round up of latest news
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Europe must be able to find compromises, but stick to its principles. In Greece, banks are closed but public transport is free.
(AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
The latest news on Greece's financial woes as it closes its banks and limits money withdrawals (all times local):
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that Europe must be able to find compromises but also must stick to its principles — insisting that aid can only be offered in exchange for efforts by the countries that receive it.
Merkel told an event Monday marking her conservative party's 70th birthday that "we must find compromises in every challenge."
She added: "If this ability to find compromises is lost, then Europe is lost, and that's the sense in which the sentence I have often said should be understood: 'if the euro fails, Europe fails.'"
Merkel said five years of crisis-fighting efforts have strengthened Europe. She said: "Europe can cope much, much better with crisis situations such as we have in connection with Greece because we have achieved a lot together."
The Greek government is making public transport in Athens free while the banks are closed.
Transport Minister Christos Spirtzis says fares in greater Athens for the capital's metro, tram, bus and trolley-bus services will be scrapped effective Monday.
Fares normally cost 1.20 euros ($1.34) for a 70 minute ride on a city transport service. Spirtzis says the decision would cost the government about 4 million euros per week.
Spirtzis says the decision was only effective in greater Athens, where about 40 percent of the country's population lives.
Services in Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city, are partially privatized, not allowing the government to waive fares.
Spain's economy minister is brushing off suggestions that the possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone could economically damage his country.
Luis de Guindos said economic contagion is much less likely to happen now than it was in 2011 and in 2012, when many feared a Greek economic implosion could destabilize Spain financially.
Spain has the eurozone's fourth largest economy, but de Guindos said there are no longer fears of contagion that would slam his country and possibly cause the breakup of the zone.
De Guindos told reporters Monday that "we're much better prepared than we were two, three years ago."
He cited moves that propped up Spanish banks saddled with toxic property and loans, a lower Spanish deficit and relatively strong economic growth.
The head of Germany's main business lobby group says Greece cannot be kept in the euro "at any price" and that the immediate impact on German industry of a possible Greek exit would be limited.
Ulrich Grillo, the head of the Federation of German Industries, says that leaving the euro would be "a huge problem for the Greek economy, which is strongly dependent on imports." But he says the direct impact on German industry would be limited in view of the relatively small trade volume between the countries.
He added: "it is hard to calculate the indirect consequences, on the countries of the eurozone, the financial markets and economic expectations in Europe."
Macedonia's central bank says it has taken "protective" measures to limit outflows of money to neighboring Greece, which has itself limited money withdrawals and transfers.
Macedonia's move is meant to protect the stability of its financial system from the risk of large amounts of money being moved to Greece.
The central bank says in a press release that "these protective measures are temporary, introduced to prevent any danger of significant outflows of capital from the country to our southern neighbor that can cause significant disturbance in the balance of payments and undermining the stability of the financial syste."
The Bank says the intention of its measures, which it did not outline further, is only to limit money outflows to Greece. It is not meant to block or impede current and future commercial operations with entities in Greece.
French President Francois Hollande says France has "nothing to fear" from an eventual Greek departure from the eurozone.
Hollande, speaking after an emergency meeting of top economic officials Monday, told reporters that he regrets Greece's decision to cut off negotiations "because we were very close to an agreement."
He says he wants negotiations to resume, and that France is in favor of Greece staying in the euro.
But if Greek voters choose to leave, Hollande says France "has nothing to fear from what could happen" because the French economy is "more robust" than it was when the Greek debt crisis first panicked markets five years ago.
He says France is pushing for Greece to stay in the euro not out of fear but out of solidarity and a belief that it would be better for Europe as a whole.
He says he respects Greek voters' right to decide their future but warned that the "stakes are fundamental."
Spain's economy minister says a Greek debt deal is still reachable before a deadline on the nation's credit from the European Central Bank runs out at midnight Tuesday.
Luis de Guindos told Spanish National Radio: "I hope that rationality and common sense will return and we can redirect the situation over the next 48 hours. The bottom line is that the agreement is best for everyone, but especially for Greece."
Spain's benchmark stock index is down nearly 4 percent Monday morning.
But de Guindos says Spain is not threatened by a potential Greek exit from the eurozone because Spain fixed problems with its banks, reduced its deficit and is experiencing relatively strong economic growth.
De Guindos says Greece's decision to close banks for six business days and limit cash withdrawals will give stressed banks a break but can't be kept in place for long as a banking system "is the backbone of the economy."
The European Union's executive Commission, which enforces the bloc's laws, says that Greece's decision to impose capital controls was "prima facie, justified."
Jonathan Hill, the Commission's top official responsible for financial stability, says "the stability of the financial and banking system in Greece constitutes a matter of overriding public interest and public policy that would appear to justify the imposition of temporary restrictions on capital flows."
He adds: "Maintaining financial stability is the main and immediate challenge for the country."
But Hill says that the free movement of capital should be restored as quickly as possible and that the Commission will monitor the way any restrictions are imposed.
France's finance minister says this week marks a moment of truth for both Greece and Europe but that talks can resume anytime as a Tuesday deadline looms for a bailout program.
Michel Sapin told France-Inter radio that "Greece is trapped by reality, by hard reality" as the Paris Bourse dropped more than 4 percent at opening Monday.
Greece imposed capital controls and closed banks following Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' abrupt decision to call a referendum on creditor proposals for Greek reforms in return for vital bailout funds.
Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic affairs, said negotiations were cut off when an agreement seemed within reach, and he said now the situation largely rests on a 'yes' vote in Greece. He said European Commision President Jean-Claude Juncker would speak at midday.
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