Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is under pressure to convince the eurozone leaders of Greece’s efforts
Greece’s Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, has called for more time to implement tough spending cuts and reforms, ahead of crucial talks on its EU/IMF bailout.
He will argue that Greece has lost time because of elections this year, and that it should be allowed to move more gradually in order to ease the economic pain felt by the Greek people, the BBC’s Mark Lowen reports from Athens.
“But we have to kick-start growth in order to cut our deficit. All that we want is a little ‘breathing space’ to revive the economy quickly and raise state income.”
However, a government source told our correspondent that Mr Samaras will not press the issue too hard, fearing it might cause bad blood with the group of lenders than monitors Greece’s bailout.
Mr Samaras goes on to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday, and French President Francois Hollande on Saturday,
The “troika” – the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – is expected to report on Greece’s progress next month.
Eurozone leaders have so far resisted any move to soften the bailout conditions.
Especially in Germany, the eurozone’s richest country, the government is under pressure not to make any more concessions.
On Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle insisted Athens must press ahead with the terms already agreed.
The heavily-indebted country has received two massive EU and IMF bailouts – one for 130bn euro this March and one for 100bn euro in May 2010 – to allow it to continue payments on its vast public debt and stay in the eurozone.
Cuts in public spending, benefits, pensions and public sector salaries imposed as as result of both loans have led to severe economic hardship, and Greece remains mired in recession.