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Greece Calls On EU-IMF Rescue Loans

Greek leaders say the country can no longer save itself from a growing debt crisis, and are instead turning to the country's European neighbors for help.

As strikers took to the streets of Athens for a fourth time in as many months to protest austerity measures, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Athens made a formal request Friday to activate a joint European Union-International Monetary Fund aid package.

Mr. Papandreou said it was of national and pressing national necessity to officially request from their EU partners the activation of the support mechanism that they created together.

The aid package is a series of loans that could total about $60 billion but must be approved by 15 other countries using the euro before it goes into effect.

The prime minister had hoped that just the promise of EU support, agreed to last month, would have been be enough to reassure markets and help its recovery. But Greece's problems have continued to hit investor confidence in the euro and other European economies.

Greek money markets welcomed the decision with stocks recovering soon after the request, with the composite index of the market rising more than 1.5 percent in midday trading.

However, data published on Tuesday revealed a gap of 13.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), and not the 12.7 percent which had been reported by Greece originally.

Economist Vagelis Agapitos was asked what other steps must be taken to solve the crisis:

"Reforms from hospitals, cost management, reforms in the public sector, employment, benefits, productivity measures," he said. "Reforms in terms of reducing the public sector companies. Reforms in tax collection and checks. Reforms in mentality. Greece needs to turn the page and start anew," said Agapitos.

With the economy in crisis with a spiraling public debt, Athens said it would reduce the government budget deficit to 8.7 percent during the next nine months.

Greek newspapers continue to report the hardships citizens are facing, including pension cuts, salary freezes and the prospect of job cuts.

Prime Minister Papandreou has continually said he will do whatever it takes to save the economy, no matter how painful.

The European Commission has promised to try to release emergency relief money for Greece as soon as possible.