PM calls for more time for reform

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has called for an extension to Greece’s fiscal adjustment period in an interview with the Washington Post in which he stressed the government’s determination to keep the country solvent and in the eurozone and his conviction that his coalition will manage to push a new austerity package through Parliament.

“We are asking for enough time,” he said, referring to the implementation of the multi-billion-euro austerity package. “Two years, up until 2014, has been accepted by the troika. We are talking about an extension to 2016.”

The premier’s comments came after International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde indicated that an extension could be granted, an option that European Parliament President Martin Schulz supported in an interview with Sunday’s Kathimerini. “If the troika report is good, then Greece should get the extra time it is asking for,” Schulz said.

Samaras told the Washington Post his government would do what it takes. “Our determination is a given. It is 11.7 billion euros in expenditure cuts,” he said. Samaras said the package would be approved. “It will pass Parliament because we all realize the No. 1 prerequisite for our future is to stay in the eurozone,” he said. The premier, who held meetings with European officials in recent weeks, claimed the outlook toward Greece has improved. “If you look at the signals a month ago and then look at them recently, they are very different,” he said.

He also voiced concern about the impact of austerity on society, saying, “We have to get light at the end of the tunnel,” and an aggravation of the country’s problem with illegal immigration. “I wake up every morning and say, ‘Has anything happened in Syria today?’ If something happens in Syria, thousands of people would be flowing into Greece.”


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