German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Greece will need a third international bailout when money from its current economic rescue package starts to run out next year.
The blunt-spoken Schaeuble told a political rally near Hamburg Tuesday that Athens will need another infusion of cash to keep it from defaulting on its financial obligations. Greece's international lenders already have approved $320 billion in two bailouts to keep it from going bankrupt.
Greece is mired in the sixth year of a recession, with more than a quarter of its workforce unemployed. The government has imposed austerity measures demanded by its lenders to cut its debt, but analysts say the Greek economy is not likely to advance before late 2014.
More aid for Greece almost certainly would prove controversial in Europe. Taxpayers in some financially stable countries, including Germany, have grown weary of the bailouts for debt-ridden countries in the 17-nation euro currency bloc.
With the approach of next month's national elections in Germany, Schaeuble's assessment of Greece's plight went well beyond what German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said publicly about the possibility of more assistance for Greece. She has said such a discussion can wait until nearer the end of Greece's second bailout.