BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel pressed Greece on Thursday to deliver on commitments to carry out reforms, making clear that it's up to leaders in Athens to show the will to reach a deal with creditors.
Merkel addressed Germany's Parliament hours before the 19 eurozone countries' finance ministers gather in Luxembourg to try to break a deadlock in long-running bailout talks — though the prospects of that looked poor.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was traveling to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, a visit that has prompted speculation that Greece could be seeking Russian loans. Asked whether Russia is going to offer Tsipras money on his visit, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said he "cannot comment on specific decisions."
Greece needs to get more loans from its creditors before June 30, when its bailout program expires and it is scheduled to make a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) debt repayment to the International Monetary Fund. Greece and its creditors have publicly blamed each other for the impasse in talks.
European Union officials say they have already made major concessions, dropping a budget surplus target from 3 percent to 1 percent this year. Tsipras has lashed out at rescue lenders for demanding pension cuts.
Merkel, whose country is a key supplier of rescue loans and Europe's biggest economy, said Greece's government in February "committed itself to comprehensive structural reforms. These must now be tackled with determination."
"Germany's efforts are directed to Greece remaining in the eurozone," she stressed. She reiterated that "where there's a will, there's a way — if the political leaders in Greece show this will, an agreement with the three institutions is still possible."
That was a reference to the EU's executive Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank, which supervise Greece's bailout program.
Merkel said Germany's aim has always been for Europe to emerge from its debt crisis stronger than at the beginning, and argued that the continent has come a long way.
"How far can be seen in the fact that Europe is coping very differently with the current situation in Greece than it would have done five years ago, at the beginning of our reform measures," she said.
Merkel says "Greece has enjoyed an unprecedented amount of European solidarity in the last five years."
She stressed that countries must make efforts of their own in exchange for aid, and said other bailed-out countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus "have used their opportunity" with painful reforms.