German finance minister 'very sceptical' of Greece deal

Wolfgang Schaeuble (left) meets Yanis Varoufakis on February 5, 2015 at the Finance ministry in Berlin (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Frankfurt (AFP) - German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Monday he is "very sceptical" that Greece can reach a new debt deal with its eurozone partners and described Athens' behaviour as "irresponsible."

"From what I've heard from the technical discussions, I'm very sceptical" that eurozone finance ministers will reach an agreement at a meeting in Brussels later on Monday, Schaeuble told German public radio.

Greece is demanding changes to a massive bailout of the debt-wracked country by international creditors.

Brussels is in favour of a straight rollover of the current programme that ends this month, but new hard-left Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won office last month on a promise to ditch it outright for damaging Greece, not helping it.

That leaves the most likely option a deal to cover Greece's short-term finance needs until it gets to the point where the economy is growing fast enough to cope with a crippling debt burden, analysts say.

"My guess is that it's all a big game of poker for this new government" under Tsipras, Schaeuble said.

When asked about the possibility of a "Grexit" or Greek exit from the euro, Schaeuble insisted "that's not what we want."

But that was an issue for his Greek counterpart, Yanis Varoufakis, to decide, the German minister added.

Schaeuble, who was recently caricatured in the Greek press as wearing a Nazi-era army uniform, hit out at the insults Greece has dealt to its eurozone partners.

"I feel sorry for the Greeks at the moment. They've elected a government which is currently acting irresponsibly," Schaeuble said.