Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010

Greece 'not looking for bailout', Papandreou tells BBC

Greece 'not looking for bailout'

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has told the BBC his country is not looking for an EU bailout to help cut its debt levels effectively.

He said Greece needs political support to enable it to borrow money at the same interest rate as other countries.

Greece has one of Europe's highest budget deficits and has faced pressure to bring its finances under control.

It plans to cut the country's deficit from the current 12.7% of its annual gross domestic product to 2.8%.

Greece's debts currently amount to more than 100% of its GDP.

Mr Papandreou told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that his party had been voted in late last year on a mandate for change, for which it had the support of the Greek people.

"Give us the time, give us the support - and I'm not talking about financial but political support - in order to show you that what we're saying is being implemented and we are credible again," he said.

"We don't have at this point a need for borrowing. Our borrowing needs are covered until mid-March. What we're saying is simply that we need the help so we can borrow at the same rate at other countries, not at the high rates that undermine the possibility for making the changes [to Greece's deficit]."

Meanwhile, a German magazine reported the country's finance ministry had drafted a plan for eurozone countries to provide Greece with aid worth up to 25bn euros (£22bn) for Greece.

Der Spiegel said each country would pay according to its proportion of capital in the European Central Bank.

However a German finance ministry spokesman "completely rejected" the speculation.

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.

'Reckless and corrupt'

Mr Papandreou said Greece was prepared to "go further" to improve its financial position.

He recently said that his country'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".

Demonstration by striking workers in Athens, 10 Feb 10
Greece has been hit by a run of public-sector strikes

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.

Greek customs workers ended a five-day strike against the planned austerity measures on Saturday and the country's biggest union is due to hold a major protest action next week.



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