Foreign pressure on Greece intensifies
Foreign pressure grew yesterday for Greece to push ahead with measures aimed at getting its debt-ridden economy back on track, with American President Barack Obama stressing that a Greek default could have disastrous implications on the US economy.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama called on Germany and other European countries to work together to help Greece stabilize its economy, noting that US economic growth depended on a solution to the Greek crisis. “We think it would be disastrous for us to see an uncontrolled spiral and default in Europe because that could trigger a whole range of other events,” he said.
His comments came as officials in Europe reiterated calls for Greek politicians to reach a political consensus on a new raft of austerity measures. In Paris, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged visiting Antonis Samaras, the leader of Greece’s main opposition New Democracy party, to “support the new structural plan being negotiated by the Greek government” and emphasized “the need for Greek political forces to show responsibility at this crucial time.” Samaras has resisted overtures from the Greek government for consensus, proposing instead his own alternative fiscal program featuring tax cuts rather than hikes.
On Monday, the chairman of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that Athens needed to work harder on securing national consensus. “You can’t really expect other people to help, other people to show solidarity if you can’t sort yourselves out internally. This isn’t a matter of party politics. It is about Greece,” he said. He added that he had received “many letters from Greece, many of which contain threats.”