Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Greece seeks support for debt plan but not bail-out

Greek PM George Papandreou during a cabinet meeting in Athens on 12 February 2010
Mr Papandreous said the Greeks were not reckless

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has said his country needs the support of European governments if it is to cut its debt levels effectively.

But he reiterated that Greece is not looking for a financial bail-out from other European countries.

"Our problem is our problem, our responsibility," he said.

Greece has one of the highest budget deficits in Europe and has vowed to cut its debt levels dramatically over the next three years.

"We have a progressive programme for change and we need support for this programme to make it effectively implemented," Mr Papandreou said.

The prime minister added that Greece was not looking for money from other countries, simply the opportunity "to borrow on the same terms as other countries in the eurozone."

He added that "higher interest rates for us mean higher interest rates for [the rest of] Europe".

'Vote for change'

The prime minister said there were a number of fallacies about Greek debt levels that needed to be addressed.

"It is a fallacy to say the Greeks are reckless because it would just mean the problem is a problem of DNA," he argued.

Instead, Mr Papandreou said Greece's high levels of debt were simply a consequence of the previous conservative government's policies, which focused too much on "short-term profit".

He called the previous administration, which was replaced by Mr Papandreou's Panhellenic Socialist government in October last year, "reckless and corrupt".

But he said the Greek people had voted against corruption and for "a programme of change" when they voted his party in.

Spending cuts

Last month, the Greek parliament approved a three-year plan to cut the country's deficit from the current 12.7% of its annual gross domestic product (GDP) to 2.8%.

Greece also plans to reduce its debts, which amount to more than 100% of its GDP.

Following concerns that it would be unable to meet its pledges on cutting debt levels, European leaders earlier this week told Greece to make further cuts to spending and public sector wages or face sanctions.

Despite the fact that Mr Papandreou said his government was enjoying a popularity rating of between 62% and 69%, public sector workers have been striking across Greece.

On Friday, customs workers said they would continue striking until the middle of next week.

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