Union leader slams Juncker comments

A warning by Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker that help from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in staving off Greece?s bankruptcy will take a toll on the country?s national sovereignty has drawn an angry response from the main state sector union.

In an interview with German magazine Focus on Sunday, Juncker, who is prime minister of Luxembourg, said that help from the two organizations -- who are Greece?s lenders -- in advancing the country?s ambitious, and deeply-contested, privatization plans will have uncomfortable implications.

?The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited,? Juncker said. His warning came a day after the 17 eurozone finance ministers gave the green light for a 12 billion euro installment of Greece?s bailout.

Ministers on Saturday agreed the money, the fifth tranche of Greece?s 110-billion-euro financial rescue, would be paid by mid July, pending an IMF approval.

Public sector union ADEDY, which has resisted the Socialist government?s austerity measures holding a series of strikes, on Monday slammed Juncker?s comments.

?Mr Juncker interferes in the internal affairs of a country, provokes European rules and is an embarrassment for the country whose government tolerates him,? ADEDY chief Spyros Papaspyros said.

The issue of outside interference is a sensitive one for Greeks. Speaking in Parliament last week, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told deputies said that backing the austerity plans was necessary so that Greece ?does not become converted, step by step, into a protectorate.?

Speaking to the magazine, Juncker said Greece should brace for a visit by eurozone experts.

?One cannot be allowed to insult the Greeks. But one has to help them. They have said they are ready to accept expertise from the euro zone,? Juncker said.

Meanwhile, in comments made on Monday, Greece?s finance minister said that sparking economic growth would now be the government?s top priority.

?The initiatives that must be undertaken in the coming days and weeks have as an only goal to resurrect the economy, halt recession and return to growth for the benefit of all citizens and mainly the unemployed and weak income groups,? Venizelos said in a statement.

His comments came amid a warning by Standard