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Papandreou cancelled his visit in the USA because of the crisis

18 September 2011 / 13:09:59  GRReporter
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Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dramatically cancelled his visit to the U.S. after his finance minister Evangelos Venizelos informed him of the extremely unfavorable for Greece climate among the countries of the Eurozone. Papandreou left on Saturday to go to New York where he had to attend the meeting of the UN General Assembly. While waiting for his flight from London to the United States, Papandreou spoke by phone with Venizelos and found that the crisis is serious and that the overseas visit should wait for more favorable times.

    In New York, Greek Prime Minister had to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Langard, with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, with the Emir of Qatar Hamad Bin Khalifa sheikh Al-Thani and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan Taib. On Wednesday he had to attend the reception that the US President Barack Obama gives in honor of the heads of diplomatic missions in the UN. At all these meetings Greece will be represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Stavros Lambrinidis.

    News of the canceled visit of the Prime Minister in the U.S. is the head news to all the Greek media, as George Papandreou urgently convened an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers on Sunday afternoon. According to the calculations of the representatives of the supervisory Troika from the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, even with the new additional tax on real estate in a "hole" remains the state budget of half a billion euros, which cannot be covered by anything. The Troika has stated explicitly that as in the remaining months until the end of the year Greece has no expiring debts to international lenders, new tranches of financial assistance will not be granted if the country does not achieve the objectives set out in the Memorandum for financial assistance. This means that the shortage of a billion and a half euros are for domestic payments and the socialist government will have to find it on its own.
    And thus cabinet has no other option left but to do what it should have done long ago - to dramatically reduce the public sector. According to calculations of the experts of the troika, Greece should immediately shrink the maintenance costs of state employees by 30 percent. This could be done by canceling all new appointments made in 2010 and 2011, an even more ruthless reduction in the allowances additional to the wages, more mergers of public organizations with overlapping functions and a new increase of the retirement age. New increases in excise duties on alcohol, tobacco, fuels and luxury goods are also possible.
    This sharp turnaround not only in the flight schedule of the Prime Minister, but also in the agenda of the government came after Friday's meeting of finance ministers from the Eurozone, where Evangelos Venizelos has finally realized that his colleagues are no longer interested in the good intentions of the Greek Government, but the only thing that is of any interest to them is the complete achievement of the objectives set out in the Memorandum of financial assistance. And the proofs of this were few and all of them bearing the same meaning. First Finance Minister of Austria Maria Fekter said before the meeting that if the rescue of Greece becomes too expensive, it would be better that the country be left to fail. Her Finnish colleague Utah Urpilainen reaffirmed the retentlessness of Helsinki on the issue of guarantees. And their Belgian counterpart Didier Reyders proposed directly that Greece be placed under supervision.
    During the press conference after the meeting both the Commissioner for Economic Affairs Olli Rehn and the Euro group president Jean-Claude Juncker said that Portugal and Ireland steadily and methodically walk the path of economic recovery, while Greece has a lot more work to do. The fact that until the end of the year Greece does not have payments to make to international creditors makes it a perfect time for it to be pressed to do its job. By the next meeting of finance ministers from the Eurozone in early October in Luxembourg no clear decision will be made for the payment of the expected sixth tranche.
    So it is not surprising at all that the visit of heads of mission of the supervisory Troika Poul Thomsen from the International Monetary Fund, Klaus Masuch from the European Central Bank and Matthias Mors from the European Commission was indefinitely postponed. On Monday, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will have a videoconference with them. Poul Thomsen had to participate in the conference organized by the magazine Economist in Athens, "Greece on the brink - a conversation with local businesses." Instead, the forum will attend the Fund's Resident Representative in Athens Bob Tra.

Tags: George Papandreou Evangelos Venizelos economic crisis supervisory Troika Eurogroup
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