Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos appeared confident here on Saturday -- a day before his meeting with IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde -- over the battered Greek state's finances, predicting that an EC-ECB-IMF delegation will soon return to Athens and that the sixth tranche of a bailout package will be disbursed as scheduled.
Venizelos, who also holds a deputy premier's portfolio in the Greek government, again emphasised that Athens will also dutifully meet obligations stemming from the July 21 Eurozone decisions.
In driving home the point, the Greek minister said the clear message from his meetings with Eurozone and third country counterparts on the sidelines of the annual IMF summit in Washington D.C. is that "Greece is and will always be part of the euro, a member of the Eurozone."
Among others, he met with the German, French, Italian and Belgian finance ministers.
"We are now answering the negative stereotypes that have been circulating internationally about Greece, now that we are taking significant and harsh decisions, now that the Greek people are subjected to new sacrifices ... A series of events will follow: the (EC-ECB-IMF) 'troika' will return; the sixth tranche is disbursed; July's decisions are implemented, thereby allowing us to reach a truly viable long-term debt within the implementation of the July 21 decisions. This plan is clear and it exists. We must do everything so that no one can pin the blame on us," he said.
Beyond the commitments to Eurozone partners, Venizelos repeated the still unresolved problems still plaguing the country, such as large "grey economy", tax evasion, statism and low competitiveness.
On Sunday, beyond the meeting with Lagarde, Venizelos will meet in Washington with Institute for International Finance (IIF) executives, IMF officials and possibly with ECB President Jean Claude Trichet and European Union Commissioner Olli Rehn.
"If you look carefully at the statements by all the relevant Eurozone officials and representatives of Eurozone member-states, you will see that there are two constant messages: Greece is and will be part of the Euro forever, and will not go bankrupt, because this would be catastrophic for the Eurozone and other countries beyond. This is also well-understood by the US administration, whose representatives I again met with here, such as the under-secretaries of State and the Treasury, following my recent meetings with (US Secretary of State Hillary) Ms. Clinton and (US Treasury Secretary Timothy) Mr. Geithner."
FinMin rejects Greek media reports
Greek government vice president and Finanace Minister Evangelos Venizelos reacted strongly on Sunday to Greek Sunday newspapers' reports regarding the tackling of the Greek public debt.
In a statement from Washington, where he was due to meet with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and released by the finance ministry, Venizelos rejected the reports as "a petty politics novel of bad quality".
"Despite my categorical statement last Friday, regarding various scenarios on the management of the Greek public debt, despite the fact that the Greek government's basic position is the need for the immediate and full implementation of the July 21 (Eurosone Summit) decisions and despite the fact that this is the position which I present in all my meetings and speeches in Washington, Greek Sunday newspapers repeat these scenarios as emanating from the Greek government and not as rumors emanating from other sources and reproduced by international media," Venizelos said.
"Apparently, those who write (these scenarios) do not realise how serious and dangerous is the situation for the country," the Finance minister concluded.