Samaras: Greece faces 'final hurdle'

Having succeeded in changing the country?s image on the world stage, Greece is facing its ?final hurdle? as a decision on the disbursement of a crucial rescue loan draws closer, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told Sunday?s Kathimerini in an interview.

?We changed Greece?s image and this has been recognized by everyone,? Samaras said, noting that a visit to Athens last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel represented the culmination of this acknowledgement by Greece?s European peers.

The premier said it was ?realistic? that Greece would secure a crucial 31.5-billion-euro rescue loan without which the country faces bankruptcy in late November and dismissed the prospect of its disbursement in installments as ?extremely dangerous.? ?If we don?t get it, the consequences will be dramatic,? he said.

Samaras said he was confident that an agreement on a 13.5-billion-euro austerity package will have been reached by Thursday?s EU leaders? summit. Once this has been achieved and a disagreement within the troika regarding the best method for securing the sustainability of Greek debt has been resolved, the government will take the new measures to Parliament, Samaras said. ?After this, it will be a matter of days before the new agreement has been voted on in Parliament,? he said.

He insisted that his government would not flinch in implementing tough structural reforms, including the suspension of 15,000 civil service employees, and in taking on vested interests, heralding a crackdown on companies manipulating the market. ?Whoever has created cartels should know that these practices have finished,? Samaras said, noting that his key aim remained to bring liquidity into the market and fight a deepening recession.