G20 Ministers Gather in Istanbul to Discuss Greece, Growth

Published: 09th February 2015 08:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2015 08:31 PM   |  A+A-


ISTANBUL: Ministers and central bankers from the world's top 20 economies gathered in Istanbul today to discuss solutions to the debt crisis in Greece and ways to push forward faltering global growth.

Turkey is hosting the G20 finance ministers and central bank chiefs for the first time as it holds the rotating presidency of the elite global club.

While Greece is itself not a member of the G20, intense talks were expected on its debt crisis ahead of an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Wednesday, amid fears it could leave the euro.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said that a financing solution needed to be found for Greece but added: "We cannot simply say, we'll finance, we'll finance" Athens without "respect for European rules" in exchange.

The secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Angel Gurria said the new Greek government was now more aware of the constraints facing its creditors and "hopefully this will be the beginning of a positive process."

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, the government's pointman on the economy who is hosting the meeting, expressed hope that Greece, the EU and all its creditors would come up with "mutually accepted results".

"We hope that rationality wins at the end," he said.

New leftist Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vowed he would be "unshakeable" in implementing his anti-austerity election promises in comments sure to annoy Germany, whose Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was also expected in Istanbul.

Ministers were Monday holding bilateral meetings ahead of a formal dinner, with the full plenary session to begin on Tuesday.

The OECD, in a new report published in Istanbul, said that "determined and systemic" action to implement reforms were needed to help boost weak global demand and restore healthy growth.

The report said that potential growth had been revised down in most advanced economies and some countries were risking a period of "protracted stagnation".

In a joint opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and British Finance Minister George Osborne said the Istanbul meeting was taking place against a "backdrop of challenges".

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