Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos arrives for a Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg
Greece's new finance minister Evangelos Venizelos arrived for talks with eurozone ministers on his country's debt crisis Sunday pledging to stick to debt reduction promises.
"It is a great opportunity for
me to repeat the strong commitment of the Greek government and the strong will of the Greek people for the implementation of the programme," he said, referring to a tough four-year austerity package.
"We can achieve our target, thanks to the efforts of our people, and thanks to the cooperation and the assistance of our partners," he said.
The former defence minister was handed the finance portfolio only Friday when Prime Minister George Papandreou revamped his government in the hope of mustering needed support for further belt-tightening despite public protests.
Ministers from the 17 nations using the euro were to begin two days of talks at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT) to release loans to keep Athens from default in the summer, while mulling the shape of a second major bailout for Athens in just over a year.
But help is contingent on Greece sticking to a harsh debt reduction plan that includes privatisations and belt-tightening.
And Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schauble made that more than clear on arriving for the talks.
"We will certainly work on ascertaining that conditions are fulfilled for the payment of the next tranche" of a 110-billion-euro bailout from 2010, he said.
However "the heart of the matter is not happening here but in Athens", he warned.
Greece's euro partners are expected during the talks to approve loans of over 8.7 billion euros ($12.5 billion), their share of a 12-billion-euro tranche of bailout funding which Athens needs to avoid default next month.
A further 3.3-billion-euro portion from the IMF should follow once an outline deal on financing through to the end of 2014 is agreed.
The Greek government meanwhile is battling to push through a controversial budget plan, including 28.4 billion euros ($40.6 billion) of fiscal belt-tightening, which has triggered wide unrest and threatened government meltdown.
It must be adopted by the end of the month to convince creditor nations, the EU and the IMF to continue dishing out financial aid to the country.
In Athens, Papandreou on Sunday urged political parties to forge a "national accord" and back him in a confidence vote in order to overcome the economic crisis amid social unrest.
"I have asked for a renewal of the confidence in the government because the country finds itself at a crucial point," Papandreou said at the opening of debate on a parliamentary vote of confidence in the new Greek cabinet.