Eurozone states want Greece out, says Venizelos

 
Greece's Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos speaks during a press conference in Athens on January 31 Evangelos Venizelos warned there were some eurozone members who no longer wanted Greece

Some eurozone countries no longer want Greece in the bloc, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has said.

He accused the states of "playing with fire", as Greece scrambled to finalise an austerity plan demanded by the EU and IMF in return for a huge bailout.

Athens vowed to clarify the plan before a conference call with eurozone bosses, which was due to start at 16:00 GMT.

Greece needs to convince lenders that it will make enough savings, and that its politicians will enact the changes.

Athens is hoping to get a 130bn-euro (£110bn; $170bn) bailout from the EU and IMF.

The deal also includes a provision to write off a further 100bn euros of debt owed to banks.

Parliament approved a package of austerity measures on Sunday, but eurozone ministers indicated that more detail needed to be given on the cuts.

The ministers also insisted that the major Greek political parties committed to implementing the cuts, regardless of who wins a general election scheduled for April.

Start Quote

At the highest levels of government in Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria the attitude towards Greece is one of scepticism. They don't believe the politicians in Athens can deliver any more”

End Quote

Leaders of the two main parties have now signed letters committing them to enacting the changes.

The leader of the conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, wrote that if his party won in April it would "remain committed to the programme's objectives, targets and key policies".

A Greek official told the BBC that 325m euros of extra savings had been made with cuts from defence, health and local government budgets.

Mr Venizelos said there were "very few remaining issues" with the austerity package and promised to have them "fully clarified" before the conference call.

But he also warned that some eurozone countries were "playing with fire", saying: "There are many in the eurozone who don't want us any more."

Mr Venizelos also said that President Karolos Papoulias had volunteered to give up his salary as an "honourable... symbolic gesture". He is reported to earn 280,000 euros a year.

'False rumours'

One eurozone finance official told AFP news agency that Wednesday's conference call would draw up "an inventory of what Greece has delivered, and checking if it is enough".

Without the bailout, Greece will be unable to pay its debts and will be forced into a default.

Greece crisis in numbers

Graphic

Sources: ELSTAT, BBC

Its next payment is due on 20 March, and the complex technicalities of finalising the bailout will take several weeks even after the politicians have agreed the measures.

But the austerity plan has been hugely unpopular in Greece.

Anger boiled over during Sunday's vote in parliament, when large groups of protesters clashed with riot police and dozens of buildings were set on fire in Athens.

And eurozone countries appear to be running out of patience with Greece.

On Wednesday German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told local radio he wanted to help Greece, but "we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit", in comments translated by AFP.

Unnamed eurozone officials were quoted as suggesting that Greece's latest assurances still may not be enough, because people no longer trusted the country's politicians.

Greece has failed to deliver on many of the promises it made to secure an earlier bailout deal, EU officials say.

In a press briefing on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, denied Germany wanted Greece out of the eurozone.

"I can clearly state for the federal government that these rumours are false," he said.

Amadeu Altafaj, a spokesman for EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn, said eurozone members had "stated very clearly that they want Greece to remain a member of the eurozone".

However, the BBC's Matthew Price in Brussels says there is a growing sense among eurozone members that if Greece did leave it would not mean the collapse of the euro.

And in an interview in Manager Magazin to be published on Friday, the head of Germany's engineering and electronics giant Bosch calls for Greece to be ejected from the EU.

In a transcript acquired by Reuters, CEO Franz Fehrenbach says: "This state with its phantom pensioners and rich people that don't pay taxes, a state without a functioning administration, has no place in the European Union."

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    75. "Indeed, real deficit was 3.2% and was cooked to 2.9%."

    Are you sure? According to this ...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16834815

    ... it was 8.3% cooked to 1.5%, which is a lot more serious than 3.2% cooked to 2.9%.

    Where did you get your figures from?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 84.

    52.RobinTheBoyWonder - "...Either create a Federal EU Superstate, or break up the zone. Personally I am totally against the Superstate idea, but I think the politicians will force it on us eventually"

    I have never revolted, never even felt like it but if ever there was any inkling of what you suggest then I'd be out on the streets, along with more than a few others suspect

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 83.

    I know greece won't feel like it, but they are doing us all a favour. hopefully now the Big brother state will collapse and countries get their own currencies back. germany has wanted the Deutsch mark back for a while. my heart goes out to the greeks but they are fighting for what they need and then politicians are screwing them as usual. let the euro collapse only those at top wanted it anyway. X

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 82.

    In or out, no country can keep spending like there's no tomorrow!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    G. Papandreou in the Greek Parliament the other day shown on TV - well fed looking good for his age .. all suited & booted and STILL voting on behalf of the Greek people! Why no trial for financial treason for him in some EU courtroom? He has never once apologised to the Greek people for his G.Brown-style bungling incompetence.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 80.

    As a resident in one of the Latin PIGS it's amazing it's taken this long. Is it a coincidence that when the EU money train moved east to the new member states we here in the old "poor" countries immediately started to go bust?
    The politicians here have no will to change things now that the EU has stopped hosing us with cash. "If you make them pay taxes they won't vote for you".

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 79.

    For something like the last 20 years Greece has restated the previous year's growth and deficit figures and always the growth was less and the deficit was more than the original figures

    Even to fit in the convergence criteria to join the EZ, Greece made a special repo trade with Goldman Sachs to lower their deficit numbers for that year

    Why would anybody trus Greek politicians this time around?

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 78.

    I do feel very sorry for the Greek people mind. I am not sure how much they knew about their debt mountain but I bet they didn't know the full extent!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 77.

    An interesting game of chicken going on here. The Greeks know that the EZ folks do not want them to leave the Euro, so are hoping that they can get away with doing less. And the EZ folks know that a default for Greece will be a disaster for them. SO who will crack first? You mean a " Mexican Stand-Off" or can you say that anymore ?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 76.

    Im amazed Greece want to be in it! Could they possibly be any worse off going it alone?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 75.

    Some of you keep repeating about Greece's cooked books to join the EZ. Indeed, real deficit was 3.2% and was cooked to 2.9%. France had a higher margin though, Germany about the same. Would you want them out as well? So before you write yourbull, read the facts first.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 74.

    Of all the comments to become an Editors' Pick you chose that one!

    I think that says a lot more about the BBC than most things.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 73.

    Greece can't afford it's current debt repayments without the EU zone lending it more and more on a monthly basis.

    How can this help? We're increasing the debt which they already cannot pay. How can they pay more?

    This whole situation seems doomed to failure, I cannot see how this can end in any way except Greece being thrown out of the EU.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 72.

    Instead of using the cheap EU money to use to buy the more industrialised EU nations goods (the whole purpose of letting Greece in) their shambolic and corrupt government blew it on artificially inflated wages and unsustainably attractive early retirement pensions. Nobody demonstrated then.

    Greece has got what it deserves. In or out, Greece faces decades of decay and deprivation.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 71.

    Sure! Let's kick the greeks out, says the Bosch man. At the end of the day they only invented the word 'Europe', and the geographical concept, as well.
    Oh, I was forgetting: half of the words we use in every technical field, most of the institutions, etc. etc.
    What am I talking about? History and culture in the EU's identity? Naaahhh, Bosch-made drills are more important.

    You keep that Europe.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 70.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for the Greek people and cannot but believe they would ultimately be better off outside the euro. At least they would be able to have some chance of a return to prosperity, given that their major domestic industry is tourism, which has suffered huge price rises since entering the euro and is wholly uncompetitive with neighbouring Turkey. It may take a a few years.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 69.

    A lot of people want the UK out of the EU... we can but hope !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    An interesting game of chicken going on here. The Greeks know that the EZ folks do not want them to leave the Euro, so are hoping that they can get away with doing less. And the EZ folks know that a default for Greece will be a disaster for them. SO who will crack first?

  • rate this
    +92

    Comment number 67.

    Let Greece go back to the Drachma and trade like it used to be, the cheap holiday destination for many.

    By doing this, they will soon recover and be back on track, and probably make a laughing stock of the rest stuck in the Merkozy merry-go-round!!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 66.

    When I think of Greece I think, I wonder how I say money doesn't grow on trees in Greek (τα χρήματα δεν φυτρώνουν στα δέντρα) I think. Some one should have told them this a long time ago

 

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