November 5, 2013
Greece’s international creditors are due to meet the country’s finance minister Tuesday for talks over the country’s bailout program and the holes in its budget, discussions which are central to the government receiving more aid.
Inspectors from the European Union, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB) are due to meet with Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday morning.
There were doubts that the meeting would take place after differences over how to plug Greece’s funding gap emerged last week but, on the eve of the visit on Monday, the country’s prime minister appeared resolute that the differences could be resolved.
Trying to quell public fears over the return of the creditors, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told the nation via a Greek television broadcast that the country was not “at war” with international lenders.
“First of all let me say something – let’s do away with this notion that we are in some kind of war…It is a negotiation.”
He argued that it was possible to close Greece’s fiscal gap in 2014 and achieve its goal of a primary surplus without more austerity – austerity which he said the country could and would not take.
Greece has been relying on two bailouts worth 240 billion from its fellow euro countries and the International Monetary Fund since 2010 when it could no longer afford to raise money on its own.
The loans came with strict spending and reform rules which, in turn, put the brakes on Greece’s economy, keeping it mired in a six-year recession. Greece’s debt pile, meanwhile, is the highest in the euro zone with the debt-to-GDP burden at 160.5 percent and unemployment is at record highs, particularly among the under the age of 25.
“Society cannot take it, the economy cannot take it, and it is not even required by the country’s current financial situation,” Samaras insisted.