Germany urges Greece to win ECB as friend in quest for funds

By Patrick Donahue & Birgit Jennen

Germany's top envoy for Europe urged Greece to end its spat with the European Central Bank, saying ECB President Mario Draghi is an ally in the country's struggle for funding.

Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Roth said he made the point in talks with Greek government officials in Athens this week. Confrontation with the ECB won't help Greece and it would be "disastrous" if Europe failed to put the country on the path to prosperity, he said in an interview in Berlin.

As Greece and its European creditors seek a financing deal, Roth's trip reflects a German effort to smooth relations and keep Greece in the euro area. A week after Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for talks and dinner, Roth met Nikos Pappas, Tsipras's chief of staff, and Economy Minister Giorgos Stathakis.

"I tried to make clear during my trip to Greece that the ECB is a partner, not an adversary," Roth said Tuesday, a day after his return.

Greece's agreements with its European partners allow leeway in the measures Tsipras takes to meet economic reform requirements, Roth said.

"We've conceded on flexibility and appreciate that the new government wants to take a new course and establish different priorities," he said. "Assuming that Greece wants to make use of that flexibility, it has to engage with the institutions" in Europe, he said.

ECB loans are buoying Greece as it struggles to win more cash from creditors who have accused Tsipras's government of failing to meet conditions required for the additional funds. The ECB on Wednesday approved a 700 million-euro ($758,000) increase in emergency funds for Greek banks after deposits declined for a sixth month.

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