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PM meets IMF chief; Strauss-Kahn urges support for government efforts

Δημοσίευση 8 Δεκεμβρίου 2010, 11:45 / Ανανεώθηκε 27 Ιουνίου 2013, 14:55
PM meets IMF chief; Strauss-Kahn  urges support for government efforts
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After talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Tuesday, Interna-tional Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged Greek society and Greek political parties to support the government's efforts to navigate Greece's economic crisis. He particularly emphasised the need for political support from opposition parties, saying that the country's rescue was at stake.

After talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou in Athens on Tuesday, Interna-tional Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged Greek society and Greek political parties to support the government's efforts to navigate Greece's economic crisis. He particularly emphasised the need for political support from opposition parties, saying that the country's rescue was at stake.

"We are here to help, we do not go somewhere uninvited," Strauss-Kahn said, noting that he was aware of how the IMF was viewed but urging Greeks not to "fight the doctor that sometimes gives us medicines we don't like".

The prime minister, in his statements, said the effort being made by the Greek people was a feat and that this was being increasingly recognised worldwide. As a sign of this recognition, he pointed to the start of a process to extend the repayment schedule for the 110 billion euros loaned to Greece via the European crisis support mechanism, thanking the IMF chief for his position on this issue.

Strauss-Kahn indicated that the IMF was ready to extend the repayment and termed the issue "technical", adding that there was increasing understanding within the EU of the need for such an extension to take place simultaneously.

Asked whether the extension of the repayment would also mean additional austerity measures, Strauss-Kahn let it be understood that no additional measures were currently envisioned:

"I did say that the worst was not over but neither did I say that the worst was coming. There is nothing new in the programme, which is continuing as planned," he said.

The IMF director also declared himself impressed with the efforts of ordinary Greek people and the fact that Greek voters had shown they understood the necessity for the government's "brave" measures via elections, adding that this "does not happen often".

Predicting that Greece will return to growth in 2012, he noted that controlling public finances had been a priority until now but the focus should now shift to structural reforms, especially for the problematic public sector.

"When a country has problems of this kind it must handle them in the right way," Strauss-Kahn said and urged continued efforts, in which the wealthy shouldered their share of the burden rather than allowing ordinary people to suffer.

Papandreou stressed that the government's efforts were not directed only at fiscal management but at placing the country upon a different path toward growth, one that made use of its comparative advantages in an environment of fair taxation, less red tape, better services, conditions that encouraged enterprise and initiatives to increase jobs.

The prime minister said that the government would place most emphasis in 2011 on education and noted that prior to his meeting with the IMF chief, he had met Education Minister Anna Diamantopoulou.

According to Papandreou, Greece's huge public-sector deficits were simply symptoms of deeper problems in Greek society, so that the changes being made by the government did not only concern reducing public spending but also establishing values, rules and mechanisms for the proper management of public spending, for control, accountability and transparency and to establish a different culture.

In 2011 the greatest weight will be on structural changes so that in 2012 the country will return to growth, Papandreou stressed.

"As we meet our targets, so will the conditions and terms improve for a permanent exit from the crisis in a viable way," he added.

The IMF director said that the problems were not confined to Greece, noting that the situation in the EU and euro-zone was "very serious" and stressed the need for an overall solution and not a separate solution for each country. He emphasised that the problem was not debt, as such, but slow growth and noted that Europe needed growth levels of 3-4 percent, comparable to those of the United States.

Papandreou agreed on the need for a solution for all of Europe, saying that the crisis had to be "converted into an opportunity to tackle the system of economic governance."

After their statements to the press, Papandreou and Strauss-Kahn had a working dinner at the premier's office with the other members of the EU-ECB-IMF troika in Athens.

 

President receives IMF chief

 

President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Tuesday received International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who arrived in Athens earlier in the day.

Strauss-Kahn asked that the vulnerable social strata not be affected, to the degree feasible, and that the weight be placed instead on collecting taxes from the more robust social groups.

He noted that the economic crisis is chiefly a European crisis, but added that Greece was the most vulnerable EU member country, and that was the reason it was the first to be hit by it.

Papoulias, in turn, thanked the IMF chief for his "understanding towards Greece's big problem".

He stressed that the Greek people are "waging a huge battle, with many difficulties, particularly for the vulnerable social strata".

On Germany's stance, he said "it has dug its heels in", and described the crisis as a European, and not only a Greek, crisis.

ND leader holds talks with IMF managing director

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras met in his office in Parliament on Tuesday evening with visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, to whom he outlined his position on the memorandum that Greece has signed with the troika of EU/ECB/IMF.

Samaras explained why the memorandum, apart from socially unfair, is also economically ineffective. He said that it does not lead to results and insisted on the need for a change in course with recovery and growth because if these do not exist greater deadlocks will result which neither society nor the economy can stand.

The ND leader further said that these deadlocks cannot be prevented by the extension of the repayment of the loan alone. ND agrees with the extension provided that it includes the entire amount of the loan of 110 bilion euros and not contains new burdensome measures.

The meeting with Strauss-Kahn was attended by ND vice president Stavros Dimas, the relevant economy sector chiefs Christos Staikouras and Mitarakis, ND spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos, and the director of his office Constantine Arvanitopoulos.