Belgian finance minister sees room to discuss 'modalities' of Greek program, not the essence

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s finance minister sees some room to discuss the “modalities” of the Greek debt program with the other eurozone nations after Sunday’s election victory of the left-wing Syriza party that seeks an end to painful austerity measures.

Johan Van Overtveldt said on the eve of a eurozone finance ministers’ meeting that “we can talk modalities, we can talk debt restructuring, but the cornerstone that Greece must respect the rules of monetary union — that must stay as it is.”

He told VRT network that even if some things could be changed to accommodate the demands of Syriza, “it is impossible to fundamentally change things.”

In Germany, the opposition Left Party has welcomed the Greek result, calling it a “sign of hope for a new start in Europe.”

Left Party co-chairs Katja Kipping and Bernd Riexinger said in a statement result was a blow to the policies dictated to Greece by the “troika” of creditors — the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund — and the German government.

“The Greek election isn’t just a chance departure for Greece, but for the whole of Europe. It provides an opportunity for a democratic awakening and a fundamental change of direction in the European Union,” the statement said.