Enough 'merciless whipping' of Greece: president
ATHENS - Agence France_Presse
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (C). AFP PhotoGreece has had enough 'merciless whipping' over its fiscal profligacy and the European Union should help out ailing eurozone nations, President Carolos Papoulias said today.
"Until now we have sustained a merciless whipping. I think we have paid for our mistakes enough," Papoulias said during a meeting with Canada's visiting Senate speaker Noel Kinsella.
"Europe must understand that it needs to help Greece. And not just Greece, but Spain, Portugal and Ireland, to overcome the economic crisis," the 83-year-old former wartime resistance fighter said.
After two years of austerity, Greece is again under pressure to adopt about 11.5 billion euros ($14.7 billion) in new cuts in 2013-14 in order to secure continued loan funding from the EU, the IMF and the European Central Bank.
Senior auditors from the three organisations -- the so-called 'troika' -- are currently locked in talks with the government to finalise the package.
Athens must wrap the package by Friday if it is to present the plan to eurozone partners meeting in Cyprus.
According to reports, the auditors have rejected part of the proposed package, meaning the government will have to come up with around 3.0 billion euros of new measures amid mounting union opposition to another round of austerity.
Protesters from the Communist-affiliated PAME syndicate on Tuesday blocked off the entrance of the Greek labour ministry, delaying a meeting between the 'troika' auditors and Labour Minister Ioannis Vroutsis.
"We condemn the policies of the government, the EU and the IMF," said PAME amid reports that retirement levels could be hiked and pensions cut anew under creditor pressure.
The 'troika' report, expected in October, will determine whether Greece will be able to receive a much-needed 31-billion-euro instalment from its 130-billion-euro EU-IMF rescue package.
The cuts are reported to include slashing pensions by 3.5 billion euros, health cuts worth 1.47 billion euros as well as a 517-million-euro reduction in defence spending.
The proposed cuts have caused friction within Samaras' three-party coalition government, whose leaders failed to reach an agreement on the package at a meeting late on Sunday.