Eurozone nations are negotiating a third bailout worth as much as 50 billion euros ($56 billion) for Greece, Spain's economy minister said Monday.
But in a sign of the state of uncertainty surrounding the efforts to stabilize Greece's finances, the eurozone's top financial official denied the claim.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said at a conference in the northeastern city of Pamplona that a new bailout would provide between 30 billion euros and 50 billion euros. Its “central scenario for Greece is a deal on the basis of the current bailout, and new conditions to be set with flexibility.”
“Greece will not leave the eurozone,” the minister said, according to comments distributed to media outlets by his ministry. “That would not be good for Greece and for the eurozone.”
Soon after those comments, the spokeswoman for the leader of the Eurogroup, the gathering of eurozone finance ministers of which de Guindos is a member, said she was unaware of talks for a third bailout.
The bailout that de Guindos outlined “is not something that is being discussed,” said Simone Boitelle, the spokeswoman for Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is both finance minister for the Netherlands and chairman of the Eurogroup.
A Greek finance ministry official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, likewise denied there were any talks. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has ruled out a third bailout.
Greece received a four-month extension on its rescue loans agreement but will need to make reforms in order to get more money. It faces a cash crunch as early as this month.
De Guindos made his comments a day after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy responded angrily to his Greek counterpart's claim that Spain and Portugal have formed “an axis of forces” trying to overthrow Greece's newly elected far left government.
Rajoy on Sunday said neither Spain nor Portugal were “responsible for the frustration” generated by Greece's new government, led by the Syriza party.
Syriza was elected in January with the promise to scrap budget austerity in Greece and overhaul the country's bailout deal. It has received some domestic criticism after the deal for an extension of the bailout ensured some austerity would continue.
Tsipras had singled out Spain and Portugal as “aggressive European conservative forces” that hope to bring down his government.
Rajoy countered by saying that Syriza had “promised the Greeks something they knew that they would not be able to deliver.” He also noted that Spain, despite its own financial crisis, had aided Greece in existing bailout programs with “more than 26 billion euros ($29 billion).”
EU spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said the bloc's executive Commission is “building bridges and bringing parties together” in the dispute after receiving a complaint from both Spain and Portugal.