Eurozone leaders lose patience


Greek Foreign Minister, Evangelos Venizelos, faced a tough session with the 17 Eurozone Finance Ministers this week with fresh demands if Greece wants its next bailout fund.

Venizelos was told that to qualify for a further €130 billion in bailout funds the country would have to find an additional €325 million in spending cuts. He was also informed that parliament must finalise the previous austerity measures, push through the new measures and the three coalition partners should provide commitments that the measures will happen.

Many commentators are saying that trust between the Greek government and the Eurozone leaders has been lost and attitudes are hardening.

On the Greek side, Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has said that a bond swap deal whereby private investors will give up 70% of their Greek debt is near agreement. If the deal goes ahead then around €100 bn of the €350 bn of Greek debt will have been eliminated.

With so much going on there are cracks appearing in the government. Six ministers have resigned their posts, two from the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and all four ministers of the smaller coalition partner Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS). They include Deputy Labour Minister Yiannis Koutsoukos, Deputy Minister of Development Adonis Georgiadis, Minister of Transport Makis Voridis, Deputy Defence Minister Georgios Georgiou, Deputy Agriculture Minister Asterios Rondoulis and Deputy Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenoyiannakopoulou.

The Eurozone Finance Ministers are expected to meet again next Wednesday and will be expecting the Greek government to have complied with their requests. If not then Greece is likely to default on the repayment of €14.5 bn of Greek government bonds which mature on 20th March.

Meanwhile unemployment figures for November have been announced showing the jobless rate is 20.9% and the youth unemployment rate is 48%. Inevitably there have been more strikes and protests by tens of thousands of people in Athens angry about the continued squeeze.

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