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Greek opposition rejects EU call on austerity

 Conservative party opposition leader Antonis Samaras makes statements to the media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the Pr...
 Conservative opposition party leader Antonis Samaras makes statements to the media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the Pr...

Greece Financial Crisis

Conservative party opposition leader Antonis Samaras makes statements to the media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the Pr...

Greece Financial Crisis

Conservative opposition party leader Antonis Samaras makes statements to the media after his meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias at the Pr...

Greece's opposition leader on Tuesday rejected a call from European Union officials for cross-party agreement on more drastic austerity measures that would help the beleaguered Socialist government meet fiscal targets.
Top EU and eurozone officials on Monday said Greece's two largest parties needed to agree on new measures to deal with the debt crisis.
The plea was made after European officials told Athens to increase the pace of privatizations to ease its debt burden. EU officials also acknowledged that they have discussed the possibility of extending the maturity on Greece's outstanding bond repayments, though some officials remain opposed to the idea.
Conservative leader Antonis Samaras called the government's current austerity plan "demonstrably wrong" and "harmful for the country" and that he would not support it or any extra measures. The conservative has in the past backed only small parts of the government program, including its privatization drive.
"Agreement of course exists with Europe on the targets to lower the deficit and the national debt. To this we say yes," Samaras said.
"However, to support a demonstrably wrong formula, we say no. The economic policy being pursued today is demonstrably wrong. If a measure _ regardless of who suggests it _ is good for the country, we are obliged and it is our duty to back it. But if a measure is harmful for the country then we do not have the right to back it."
EU officials say they want Greece to follow the example of an agreement in Portugal, where the country's three largest parties have endorsed a bailout deal.
"A cross party agreement is necessary (in Greece) because investors, governments, public opinions, (and) parliaments would like to know what the prospects in the medium term really are," Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of the group of 17 eurozone finance ministers, said in Brussels Monday.
"We have to know if these Greek commitments are based on a broad national consensus. That's what was done in Portugal. That's was done in Ireland."
The austerity measures and punishing fiscal targets are part of a (EURO)110 billion ($155.6 billion) 2010-2013 bailout loan package from European countries and the International Monetary Fund.
A team of EU and IMF debt monitors are currently in Athens to discuss additional measures needed by the government to meet 2011 targets.
Germany's deputy finance minister, Joerg Asmussen, said the mission is likely to extend its stay for another week to help determine whether Greece needs a second bailout.
Samaras has repeatedly said that the EU-IMF prescribed cuts would sink Greece further into recession, arguing that the country can only deal with its debt crisis with a return to economic growth.
Greece remains excluded from raising long-term due to high interest rates, the result of investors' lack of confidence in the country. It has periodically raised short-term loans in order to keep a presence in the market.
On Tuesday, the country raised (EURO)1.63 billion ($2.3 billion) through a sale of 13-week treasury bills at a lower interest rate than last month.
The public debt management agency said the bills were sold at a yield of 4.06 percent, down slightly from the previous rate of 4.10 percent at an April 19 auction.
The agency says Tuesday's auction was more than three times oversubscribed.
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Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels contributed.


Updated : 2021-03-05 00:34 GMT+08:00