Greece is committed to reforms that are vital if it is to avert bankruptcy, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said in remarks published yesterday, warning the next few weeks were crucial for its future in the euro.
The comments by Stournaras came ahead of a meeting yesterday with officials from the troika of international creditors — the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF — on budget cuts needed to unlock the next tranche of aid under a massive bailout package.
“The country is committed to implementing a series of measures and reforms to revive the economy and permanently remove the threat of bankruptcy,” Stournaras told the Ethnos newspaper.
He acknowledged that Greeks have had to endure “major sacrifices” as the new coalition government imposes tough austerity measures, including salary and pension cuts, demanded by its creditors in return for aid.
“The coming weeks are crucial for the country’s survival because if we go down a different path than logic tells us, it could drive us outside the eurozone and into bankruptcy,” he added.
The troika is seeking budget cuts of another 11.5 billion euros (US$14 billion) to unlock a 31.5 billion euro loan disbursement next month as part of Greece’s latest 130 billion euro rescue package.
The cuts, applicable next year and in 2014, were originally to have been finalized last month, but back-to-back elections postponed the decision.
Stournaras said he hoped that Greece could emerge from its deep recession by speeding up a privatization program and structural reforms which are also being sought by its international creditors.
Greece was given a lifeline last week when the ECB agreed on a move which will give Athens access to another 4 billion euros of funds and ensure its financial survival until next month, a German newspaper reported on Saturday.