Fri, Jun 29, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Greece wants ‘payback’ for sacrifices

EU SUMMIT:The prime minister has sent a letter to EU leaders saying that the latest rescue package must be revised to take into account a bigger-than-expected recession

AFP, ATHENS

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was to ask his EU partners yesterday to “respond to sacrifices” by recession-hit Greeks, and seek changes to the conditions of a second EU-IMF bailout, a report said.

The top-selling daily Ta Nea said that Samaras, who is recovering from eye surgery and will miss an EU summit in Brussels, made the call in a letter to be delivered by Greek President Carolos Papoulias, who will represent Greece.

Papoulias, who flew economy class to Brussels, has already delivered a copy of the letter to EU President Herman Van Rompuy, Greek reports said.

The full contents of the letter have not been made public.

However, according to government sources, the newly elected conservative prime minister argues that Greece’s latest rescue package, which provides Athens with an additional 130 billion euros (US$163 billion) must be revised to take into account a greater-than-expected recession, Ta Nea said.

On the other hand, Samaras insists that he will “honor” Greek pledges to overhaul the economy, slash the deficit and control a runaway debt of more than 350 billion euros, Ethnos daily said.

Samaras heads a three-party coalition put in place after June 17 elections with the aim of renegotiating Greece’s bailout by placing more emphasis on growth to overcome a five-year recession.

The conservatives, socialists and moderate leftists in the coalition want to bargain for a two-year extension to 2016 for Greece to meet fiscal targets under a memorandum signed with the so-called ‘troika’ of creditors — the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB).

The government has said it also wants to freeze some reforms, such as minimum wage cuts and more flexible rules for companies wanting to shed staff, which it sees as exacerbating poverty and a jobless rate already at more than 20 percent.

However, Athens is unlikely to secure any extra breathing space from Brussels until the completion of an audit by the so-called troika of the IMF, EU and ECB on the country’s finances.

The inspection, last held in February, was delayed by a week after Samaras’ surgery.

Greece’s designated finance minister also fell ill last week and had to be replaced.

At the summit EU leaders will examine a compact for growth and jobs aimed at countering record unemployment and an economic downturn.

The heads of state and government will also discuss plans to create a banking union and increasingly centralize control over budgets.

The summit is expected to agree only on a roadmap to be finalized at another summit at the end of the year.

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