An ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel who works at the EU's executive body said Saturday he expects a new bailout for Greece costing a little more that 10 billion euros (13 billion dollars), an issue that has stirred anger in Germany as an election looms, dpa reported.
Guenther Oettinger, the European commissioner for energy who is a senior member of Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in an interview with Die Welt newspaper that he anticipated "an amount in a low double-digit number of billions" in new aid "to cover the years 2014 to 2016."
The likelihood of a third bailout for Greece, which has already received 237 billion euros in aid, is seen as Merkel's greatest point of vulnerability in the campaign for the general election set for September 22.
Merkel's current coalition has a whisker-thin lead in most opinion surveys.
Sigmar Gabriel, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), had earlier seized on the issue, telling a newspaper Greece should take from its own rich instead of turning to European taxpayers to help it out.
"It's inexcusable that super-rich Greeks contribute nothing to help their nation although many of them have plundered their country," he told Saturday's issue of the Neue Passauer Zeitung newspaper.
He called on Merkel to tell Germans before the election the truth about a fresh bailout.
Gabriel's party, which generally attacks Merkel for not doing enough to boost struggling southern eurozone nations, has argued the issue goes to the chancellor's credibility. Until the bailout issue arrived, the SPD's campaign to unseat Merkel had been flagging.
The issue erupted Tuesday when Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble conceded a third bailout was likely to be needed. Merkel said however it was too early to speculate on concrete amounts, and said she did not expect a write-off of debts.
Oettinger said, "A write-off is not on the cards in the foreseeable future, but one cannot rule it out for all time."
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