EU ups heat on Greece
Athens vows to hit targets as creditors focus on confidence, austerity votes in Parl’t
As Greece’s international creditors ramped up the pressure on the government to win a confidence vote in its new Cabinet, due tonight, and to push a new raft of austerity measures through Parliament next week, Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed that Athens would do all that is expected of it.
“We are determined as a country, as a government, to be on track with the program, to move forward and to do what is necessary,” Papandreou said after talks with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels.
Van Rompuy reiterated his support for the government’s austerity drive but highlighted the need for “Greece to make further adjustment efforts” to secure funding and stressed the importance of the Greek PM reaching a cross-party agreement with political rivals. “National consensus is a prerequisite for success,” he said.
Ministers from some EU member states also ramped up the pressure. “We are waiting for a decision from the Greek Parliament. We are calling for not just the government, but the Greek opposition to support the plan,” said Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders.
Papandreou, who has made several unsuccessful attempts to win the backing of opposition parties, indicated that his government would keep trying for consensus at home but said he was hopeful of the continued solidarity of its EU peers. “We do hope that the European Union will also have the similar will, a unity of purpose to not only support what Greece is doing, but also show the necessary strength for a crisis which has obviously not only reached Greek dimensions but a wider European dimension,” he said.
Papandreou’s comments came just a few hours after a surprise decision by eurozone finance ministers meeting in Luxembourg to delay the approval of a scheduled tranche of rescue funding for Greece, valued at 12 billion euros, until the confidence and austerity measure votes are secured.
Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who continued talks with his eurozone peers in Luxembourg yesterday, said the measures had to be approved if Greece is to regain the trust of its EU partners and secure funding. A decision on a possible second bailout for Greece was put off until July 3.
“There is an immediate and urgent need to restore the country’s credibility, as far as the implementation of the program is concerned,” Venizelos said from Luxembourg. “Each day is of extreme importance so we cannot afford to waste a single hour,” he added.