Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras arrived here on Wednesday for a series of high-level meetings with European officials, including European People's Party (EPP) President Wilfried Martens and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
After the meeting with Martens earlier in the day, Samaras attended a working dinner with Martens and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, where he was accompanied by ND vice-president Stavros Dimas, formerly Greece's European Commissioner.
During a meeting with Barroso, the later called on Samaras to support a new round of austerity and reform measures demanded by the EC-ECB-IMF "troika" in order to continue financial support for Greece, requesting that he show a commitment to reach a broad national consensus.
Speaking after his meetings, Samaras emphasised that "we brought to their attention all the available data, which show, beyond any doubt, that the current economic policy in Greece is not successful and must change."
"... we presented them with the main points of our alternative proposal and we stressed that it can bring Greece out of the crisis ... we stressed that we agree with the main targets - meaning the decrease of the deficit and of the debt - but that the policy being implemented must change through the renegotiating of the terms of the Memorandum."
He emphasised that the ND plan anticipates extensive cutbacks in the "extravagance" of the public sector.
"But at the same time it includes necessary measures that boost the economy, so that the deep recession can be combatted together with the deficit. And social cohesion to be backed, without which no restructuring plan can succeed until the end ... and, of course, we confirmed our absolute support for the need for privatisations and for the utilisation of public property. In any case, both constitute proposals on which we are insisting from the beginning."
Lastly, Samaras concluded by saying "these two days had a double result: We contributed to the national effort for Greece's speedier exit from the crisis and our views were heard attentively by the leadership of the European Union."
In a statement issued after meeting the New Democracy party leader in Brussels, Barroso said that he urged Samaras to reach such a consensus so that Greece might be able to face its present historical challenges and address the situation of its public finances in the most determined and effective manner.
Referring to the results of a recent EC-ECB-IMF mission in Greece to review and discuss the implementation of the adjustment programme, Barroso stressed that the Commission strongly believed that broad political and societal support of the reforms was critically important for restoring confidence in the future of the Greek economy.
Meanwhile, in a written statement issued shortly after meeting with Samaras, Van Rompuy stressed the need to give "broad and constructive political support" to resolve Greece's fiscal and economic problems, urging New Democracy's leader to "be cooperative".
Van Rompuy emphasised that Greece had to "continue with determination with its adjustment efforts" in order to restore the viability of its public finances and the country's competiti-veness in order to ensure fiscal stability.
Noting that the last year had seen significant progress, the European Council president stressed that more was needed to be done to ensure a sustainable recovery, with greater efforts in terms of both revenues and spending. He also noted that the Eurozone's willingness to continue to support Greece depended on an ambitious adjustment process as suggested by the troika mission.
"Efforts to put Greece back on track to a sustainable and credible fiscal path and to economic recovery require all parties to provide broad and constructive political support. I have urged Mr. Samaras to be cooperative in this respect," Van Rompuy said.