News / Europe

Greece May Still Ask a Reluctant EU for Financial Help

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said that his country may ask the International Monetary Fund for a bailout in an attempt to help his country out of a financial crisis that threatens to destabilize the euro.  

Prime Minister George Papandreou has urged European Union leaders to help his country fix it's worst financial crisis in decades, he has also warned that he may be forced to seek help from outside the Euro zone.

Analysts, however, think Athens is simply trying to pressure the European Union to arrange a comprehensive aid plan, with some commentators calling his tactics a "veiled threat" to EU partners.

Mr. Papandreou has continuously called for more solidarity from the European Union over his country's debt crisis and said he will do whatever it takes to save the economy, no matter how painful.

However, Prime Minister Papandreou made clear that Greece was not asking for money.

Yet he told the European Parliament that planned cuts were only feasible if Athens can borrow money at less punishing rates - and he would rather not turn to the International Monetary Fund for help:

"I would prefer a European solution - as part of the euro zone, [and] as an ardent European myself… to show the world that Europe can act together," Mr. Papandreou said.

The Dow Jones Newswire quoted a senior Greek official as saying Athens may apply for IMF financial help within the next few weeks, a response which caused the euro to drop further against the dollar.   

That fact that a Eurozone member may be forced to seek help from outside Europe, has sent alarm bells ringing in the financial sector - with the European Union's monetary affairs chief urging the bloc's leaders to agree on a standby aid package for Greece.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned EU member states against giving Greece what she called "rash" financial support; however, other European officials have said that a failure to help Greece would show that Europe is not capable of handling its own problems.

EU heads of state and government are expected to discuss the issue at a summit in Brussels next week.

Since austerity measures were announced in Greece, public services and transport have ground to a halt three times as workers staged general strikes.

Greece has said it would cut the government budget deficit from 12.7 percent to 8.7 percent during the next nine months.

The strength of the European currency has been under pressure since Greece's financial woes were revealed, with concern the problem could spread to other euro-zone countries such as Cyprus, Portugal and Spain.

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