EU ups heat on Greece

Athens vows to hit tar­gets as cred­i­tors fo­cus on con­fi­dence, aus­ter­ity votes in Parl’t

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

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.

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