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Greek PM Says European Creditors Expect Austerity Compliance

  • VOA News

Greece's caretaker prime minister, Panagiotis Pikrammenos, said Friday the country's European neighbors want it to stay in the euro currency zone, but that Athens must also adhere to the austerity spending plan it agreed to in exchange for billions of dollars in new rescue funds.

Pikrammenos met with other European heads of state earlier this week in Brussels. On Friday, he told Greek President Karolos Papoulias that the country's creditors elsewhere in Europe think it is obvious that debt-ridden Greece needs to comply with wage and pension cuts and elimination of thousands of government jobs.

"Our European partners wish for us to remain in the eurozone," he said. "They believe it is obvious, however, that we must keep to our commitments that we have agreed to.''

Opposition to the austerity plan has been widespread in Greece, with angry workers frequently taking to the streets in protest. The country's fractious political parties failed to forge a new coalition government after a splintered parliamentary election earlier this month, and a new vote is set for mid-June.

Political surveys show that the radical left Syriza party, which has threatened to renege on Greece's austerity promises, has gained new strength ahead of the vote, at the expense of the socialist and conservative parties that support the spending cuts.

With Greece mired in the fifth year of a recession and its jobless rate among Europe's highest, Pikrammenos said the European leaders had intense talks about how to boost the country's economy. But he said that whatever happens, the other chiefs of state still expect Athens to comply with the terms of the bailout, Greece's second in two years.

"Despite what has been said in recent days, and despite what is being written in recent days in the newspapers, all our European partners want our country to remain in the eurozone, and for this reason we had intense discussions about the need for implementing specific growth measures that will help our country develop and fight unemployment," said Pikrammenos. "Finally, I would like to say that all our European partners believe that it is without question that Greece in its turn will keep to the commitments it has agreed upon.''

The financial and political turmoil in Greece has weighed heavily on the value of the euro in recent weeks. On Friday, it briefly dipped below $1.25, its lowest point since July 2010.

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