Samaras vows new raft of austerity will be the last

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged on Thursday that a package of some 11.5 billion euros in austerity measures for 2013 and 2014 would be the last for Greeks who have suffered more than two years of wage and pension cuts but stressed that new sacrifices were unavoidable if the country is to secure its position in the eurozone.

In a speech to party officials, Samaras said the austerity would be offset by crucial structural reforms and a bold privatization program that would boost growth after five years of recession.

"This is the last such package of spending cuts,» Samaras told a meeting of his conservative party's officials, adding that «the Greek economy can take no more."

Acknowleding that many of the measures are «are difficult and painful,» Samaras said «they are also inevitable.» «Without them the country would return to zero credibility and effectively leave the euro,» he said.

After the speech, the main leftwing opposition SYRIZA issued a statement describing the premier as «a worthy representative of the bankruptcy lobby,» responding to Samaras' own dismissal of the leftist party as «the drachma lobby.» The leftwing party, which came second in June general elections after campaigning on a strong anti-bailout platform, also described as «blackmail» the correlation of the country's continued presence in the eurozone with the implementation of the onerous terms of a loan deal with Greece's foreign creditors.