The new Greek government is moving quickly to win Europe's approval for easing the terms of its financial bailout.
Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, a partner in the fledgling coalition government, said the meeting of the continent's finance ministers on Thursday in Luxembourg "will be the first big battle" on revising the $168 billion bailout Greece secured earlier this year. Venizelos said Wednesday that Greece will seek terms allowing the debt-ridden country, now in a fifth year of recession, to "move to positive growth" and cut its high unemployment rate.
Greece's new coalition is expected to ask for a two-year delay in the 2014 deadline it faces to eliminate its budget deficit. Some European leaders say they would be willing to change some terms of the Greek bailout but will still insist that Athens adhere to the basic plan to cut spending.
Venizelos said it the Greek government must find relief from the austerity demanded by the country's creditors.
"We know very well what we must ask for, from whom and how, and we are preparing for this task because this is our national duty," said Venizelos.
The plight of many Greeks was evident in the summer heat in Athens as thousands lined up for handouts of fruits and vegetables provided by a farmers' organization. One pensioner, Peggy Moschona, was pessimistic about the future.
"Terrible, things are terrible," said the pensioner. "We are constantly paying taxes. They are cutting pensions. The situation is dramatic and as time goes by, things will just get worse. Although I am optimistic, I don't think I should be.''
Another person, Eleni Moschidou, said she had never accepted a handout before.
"Can't you see what I've sunk to? I have never done this before. I have never lived through this before. This is the first time and, if needed, I'll come back for whatever it is I need,'' said Moschidou.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.