Just hours before the crusial meetings with Euro Group head Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras sent his message to the world of Greece’s lenders: We need a little breathing space to revive Greece’s economy, the drachma would be a catastrophe, Samaras told German daily BILD ZEITUNG – and sent the message to Berlin that no matter how strong are German objections, he is in need going to ask Merkel for an extension time to meet bailout-imposed fiscal targets.
Greek PM calls for breathing space for reforms
Greece’s prime minister called Wednesday for more time to make spending cuts and reforms to unlock funds to keep the debt-wracked country afloat, two days before crunch talks in Germany.
“All that we want is a little ‘breathing space’ to revive the economy quickly and raise state income. More time does not automatically mean more money,” Antonis Samaras said in an interview with German daily Bild.
“Let me be very clear. We are not asking for additional money. We are sticking by our commitments and are meeting all our requirements,” Samaras told Bild, Europe’s most widely-read paper.
“We need to get out of this negative psychology, which is like a black hole. Greeks have voted for a new government to put the country on a new course,” the prime minister insisted.
“We are making progress in structural reforms and privatisations. And it is not fair when some people in Europe want to keep pushing us back into this hole,” he said in comments translated into German.
As part of a rescue package with its international creditors, Greece has committed to slashing some 11.5 billion euros ($14.2 billion) from spending over two years from 2013.
Samaras warned of the consequences of an exit from the eurozone.
“It would mean at least five more years of recession and unemployment over 40 percent. A nightmare for Greece: economic collapse, social unrest and an unprecedented crisis of democracy,” he cautioned.
If Greece were to exit the 17-nation eurozone, the debt crisis that has lasted for nearly three years would escalate rapidly, Samaras predicted, “to say nothing of the dramatic consequences on the financial markets”.
“What society, what democracy could survive this? In the end it would be like the Weimar Republic,” he said, referring to a period of economic instability in Germany that eventually led to the rise of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.
“A lot has gone wrong, in Greece and outside Greece. Now we are getting down to all the necessary reforms,” he pledged. (English via Business Recorder/(AFP), German BILD: “Drachma would be a catastrophe for us”)
Antonis Samaras is scheduled to meet Juncker in Athens on Wednesday, Merkel in Berlin on Friday and Hollande in Paris on Saturday.