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.

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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”

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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


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

    Comment number 165.

    Somebody give me 5 good reasons why any country is better of in the eurozone? I can give you 5 good reasons why it is better to be outside of the whole European Union and part of a simple free trade and movement agreement. the arrogance and lack of democracy in the EU is breathtaking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    @153 sleepingSpurs
    What you comparing the greedy bankers and financial sector to the Nazis!

    Come on that not fair to the Nazis

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    When a country signs any treaty (e.g. economics, law enforcement, defence) there must be a clearly stated exit clause. So of course no country should ever have signed up for the Euro.

    After all, how many of us would marry if there was no provision for divorce?

    But before we get too preachy about the Greeks, remember our own humiliating exit from the ERM.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Poor Buggers
    They jumped through all this hoops and have taken the medicine that the Germans dished out.
    and still they will get booted.
    They should have taken the bail out money last year and then defaulted and started new with that borrowed cash.
    Might have been bad for Europe but much better for the Greeks.
    Now they will be left with nothing.

    The Greek Gov is clearly not for the Greeks

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    Those countries are wrong they need the strong ones out, so the euros can fall dramatically, helping all the less stable places in one fell swoop. At the same time the strong countries currencies would rise, making it much easier to help out with their old DM etc. currencies back. Worth three times the euros by then.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    It is not my problem to be worried about the standard of living in Greece .
    The Greeks must pay back their debts .
    Spending spree has finished .

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    The Greeks have their hands tied unfortunately. If recent polls are to be believed the overwhelming majority of Greeks want to remain in the Euro let alone the EU, therefore if they want to stay a member of the Euro then they basically have to do as they're told, you may not like austerity but its that or withdrawal and default. Either way its going to end in tears

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    5. Drunken Hobo
    "1 in 5 of those in poverty can't afford meals with meat, every other day."

    Congratulations on creating the most obscure statistic I have ever seen.


    The result of mediatic dramatisation.

    Or, 80% of what they call people in poverty can eat meat at least every two days.

    Greece is a rich country in crisis. They've got the money. Look at their GDP per capita.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    The electorate should be sharp enough to vote out
    those mp`s that have signed Greece away.
    You would think that that would be apparent to all.
    So more smoke and mirrors until after the elections.
    happy wednesday x

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Delighted to see more and more scribes here agree - Let Greece be free of this impossible burden. They are survivors. 400 years of Turkish rule is still indelibly inprinted on every Greek soul. There is no room there for a German occupation. Venizelous looks rudely healthy on his 600 Euro per month I dont think!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    The Eurozone and the EU could aid the Greeks massively by demanding from the various Swiss and other banks a full accounting of all monies transferred out of Greece in the past three years. This would then enable the Greek government to demand repatriation of these amounts and ask their owners to explain how they got them. This wont happen of course just wishful thinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    It is reminiscent of the French squeezing the Germans for war reparations in 1919, and we know what that led to.

  • Comment number 153.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 152.

    I would like to see the media publish the spending of this govt over the last 3/5 years, How does an island as small as this spend in excess of the 230bn that is talked about? I bet a lot of politicians and thier business buddies got rich!.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Greece should stand up and leave the Euro of it's own accord. If the Greek people themselves are not in charge of their democratic destiny, then economic crisis today, will surely lead to conflict tomorrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    I love the way the Europhobes are out in force assuming the Euro is to blame for Greece's's barely even 10% of the problem......successive Govts cooking the books for the last however many decades is what did the damage......& everyone fell for that, not least the financial markets who kept lending them more & more cash down the years.......

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    144. "This is all distracting us from the real 'Elephant in the Room' the USA, Their debt is already over 100% of GDP"

    ... and Greece is at 160% with a runaway deficit to boot. And Germany's debt is about 85% of GDP which no-one seems bothered about.

    So I think the attention on Greece seems quite reasonable to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    Greece was been allowed in when the system for assessing if convergence of the Eurozone countries found no problems. A useless system! I think a blind eye was turned. Greece got benefits of the strong currency and expanded it's spending, financed with debt. Recession bites and the 'blind eye' now finds Greece to be a cheat - convenient. Greece's Euro friends turn selfish and won't share the pain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    When are the EU countries going to realize that for businesses to invest capital and create jobs for Greeks, that they need stable government and reasonable employment standards so that they can have assurances that their investments have a chance to grow. It is very easy to demand cuts- that the Greeks need to understand and implement . Now is the time for some carrots after all the sticks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    They should default........... but i would like them to pay us back first!


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