Arab Today, arab today greece targets debt deal as eurozone tightens controls
Last Updated : GMT 14:25:05
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Greece targets debt deal as eurozone tightens controls

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Arab Today, arab today Greece targets debt deal as eurozone tightens controls

Athens - AFP

Greece rushed to finalise a debt rescue to avert bankruptcy, under orders from the eurozone on Thursday that it must accept oversight on every detail in return for bailout funds next week. European Union officials made clear they were stepping up surveillance of Greek state revenues and expenditure, with early elections in April a cause for doubt about how reforms will be carried through. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said late on Wednesday that a teleconference by eurozone ministers had \"clarified\" how to plug a 325-million-euro hole in Greece\'s 2012 budget and that remaining issues would be worked out by Monday. \"Other issues, technical but basically political, will be prepared at a euro working group in Brussels on Sunday,\" Venizelos said, having warned dramatically on Wednesday that some countries no longer wanted Greece in the eurozone.. \"This will in good time lead to a final decision\" on the approval of the eurozone bailout and a \"public announcement\" on a debt swap with private creditors worth 100 billion euros ($132 billion) on Monday, the minister said. Greece desperately needs the rescue package of 130 billion euros in fresh loans and a 100-billion-euro write down on privately-held government bonds to avoid defaulting on 14.4 billion euros in debt owed on March 20. Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker said he was confident his colleagues could \"take all the necessary decisions on Monday,\" when they next meet face-to-face in Brussels. After the teleconference, Juncker credited Greece with meeting three conditions laid down at the last gathering of ministers six days earlier, having late on Tuesday cancelled a meeting because Greece still had not provided written commitments. Those commitments arrived on Wednesday. Now, Juncker said, Greek coalition leaders had given \"strong assurances\" that austerity and reform would be upheld by whoever wins an April general election. And foreign auditors provided an analysis of Greek debt sustainability, with the Greek government identified an extra 325 million euros in cuts. But, tightening the oversight, Juncker also flagged \"a detailed list of prior actions\" Greece must complete, \"together with a timeline for their implementation.\" He said \"further considerations\" were necessary on how to supervise the management of the Greek state, and \"to ensure that priority is given to debt servicing.\" Bailout chiefs in Athens were already working to set up an \"escrow,\" or blocked account, that would prioritise governmental creditors, a senior eurozone governmental source told AFP in Brussels. Patience in European Union capitals is at the limit because Greece has repeatedly fallen short of carrying out promises, notably structural reforms and a 50-billion-euro privatisation drive that has brought paltry results so far. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble this week also questioned the wisdom of Greece holding early elections sometime in April, given the seriousness of the situation. \"When you look at the situation in domestic Greek politics ... the question is: who is going to guarantee that what we decide now will also be valid after the elections?\" Schaeuble told SWR radio on Wednesday.. He took aim at Greece\'s conservative Nea Demokratia party, which enjoys a huge lead in the polls ahead of elections expected in April. Their lead is \"exactly the problem,\" Schaeuble said, arguing in favour of a government of technocrats similar to that of Italy. \"We want to do everything we can to help Greece ... we can help but we are not going to pour money into a bottomless pit,\" Schaeuble added. His comments sparked an angry reaction from Greece\'s German-educated president Carolos Papoulias, and a rebuff from New Democracy chief Antonis Samaras. \"Who is Mr Schaeuble to taunt Greece?\" said Papoulias, 82, a former youth resistance fighter during Greece\'s wartime occupation by Nazi Germany who later studied law in Munich and Cologne. \"Elections will be held immediately after the (debt swap) in a climate of stability, to fully restore the feeling of hope for the Greek people,\" Samaras insisted at a meeting of party supporters on Wednesday. \"Otherwise we will go to an absence of government,\" he said.  

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