Europeans ratchet up pressure on Greek politicians

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn put pressure on Greece’s politicians on Friday to unite behind the fiscal measures and structural reforms that the European Union and International Monetary Fund are demanding.

Speaking to foreign ambassadors in Paris, Sarkozy said the onus was on all of Greece’s parties to back the EU-IMF program, which would be a condition for Athens receiving a second bailout.

“The eurozone remains in danger,” he said. “The whole of Greece’s political class must understand that it cannot put off decisions needed to resolve the country’s crisis.”

Sarkozy’s comments reflect the fact that patience is wearing thin within the EU as even the formation of a coalition government in Athens appears to have failed to create any great unity on how to proceed with tackling the crisis.

French European Affairs Minister Jean Leonetti also had tough words for Greece. “Europe will not pay any more for Greece,” he said in a radio interview, underlining the reluctance within the eurozone to provide further loans to Athens as long as it keeps giving the impression of having no intention of tackling its economic problems.

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos met with the leaders of the three parties in his interim government on Thursday and although he expressed confidence about receiving their backing, Olli Rehn also felt the need yesterday to call on EU politicians to put pressure on their colleagues in Greece. “The Greeks have done a lot. If they are not making progress it is for domestic political reasons. It is crucial that major European political parties contact their political families in Greece to convince their leaders to make a firm commitment to the EU aid package,” the economic affairs commissioner said.

“Otherwise this program could fail and that won’t help Greece or Europe,” he told the Suddeutsche Zeitung daily.


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