Politics: Greece critical of EU-IMF troika 'interference in domestic affairs'

The Greek government late Friday night sharply criticised the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' of interfering in the country's domestic affairs, calling the troika's attitude "unacceptable".

"We asked them to help, and we are honoring our commitments to the utmost. But we did not ask of anyone to interfere in the country's domestic affairs. Everyone must understand their role. And we will make this clear to all our partners," government spokesman George Petalotis said in a late-night statement following a troika press conference earlier in the day.

"We have need, but we also have limits," Petalotis said, adding that "we will not negotiate the limits of our dignity with anyone".

"We take orders only from the Greek people," the spokesman stressed.

In a statement issued after midnight Friday, Petalotis said:

"The attitude of the EC, IMF and ECB representatives, during their press conference, was unacceptable. We asked them to help, and we honoring our commitments to the utmost. But we did not ask of anyone to interfere in the country's domestic affairs. Everyone must understand their role. We have need, but we also have limits. And will not negotiate the limits of our dignity with anyone. We take orders only from the Greek people," the spokesman's statement said.

"The government has repeatedly taken a position on the need to take advantage of the State's real estate property with transparent conditions, so that it will contribute to growth, and also to reducing the state debt. Official announcements have been made on that, as well as detailed planning covering a horizon of many years. It is, of course, obvious that the exploitation of the State's real property in no instance means sell-off of public land. It is equally obvious that the only authority for the taking of such decisions is the Greek government," the statement added.

The troika chiefs said in a press conference earlier that Greece must step up privatisations in order to help reduce the state debt and boost larger investments in growth.

Interior minister Yiannis Ragoussis, speaking in Veria on Saturday, stressed that the exclusive responsibility lies with the Greek government, adding that "the Greek people have not given a mandate to any troika representative to interfere in the country's political life and give lessons".

"No one of all those who have the duty to assist Greece to exit from the crisis can misunderstand his role. And the Greek people have given to representative the mandate to interfere in the political life of the country. The Greek people have not given any troika representative the order, or the authorisation, to give lessons. And we have already clarified the roles. The responsibility belongs to us exclusively, and we are in a position to justify our decisions to the Greek people at any time," Ragoussis added.

Ruling PASOK's National Council secretary Michalis Karchimakis, in his own statement on Saturday, slammed what he called "ultimatum-like recommendations and orders".

"The troika representatives overstepped all boundaries. What they said yesterday (at Friday's press conference) is unacceptable and deplorable. We do not accept from anyone ultimatum-like recommendations and orders on how the Greek state's assets, the property of the Greek people, should be exploited. And we do not accept anyone pointing their finger at the Greek people inside their own home. They can do that in their own homes," Karchimakis said.

"The PASOK government and (prime minister) George Papandreou know very well what the interests of Greece and the Greek people are, and are serving them successfully. That is why we took harsh decisions and saved the country from bankruptcy. That is why we are proceeding with radical changes in order to take the country out of the crisis permanently, so that we will no need another Memorandum, or troikas or, naturally, their representatives," he concluded.

PM telephone discussion with IMF chief

Prime minister George Papandreou had a telephone conversation on Saturday with International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, at the latter's initiative, with Papandreou voicing the Greek government's disgruntlement with the EU-IMF troika chiefs' attitude during their press conference in Athens on Friday.

Strauss-Kahn expressed to the prime minister his understanding for the "spirit" of his statements and his respect for the Greek government and the Greek people.

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