NEWS

Strong resistance to measures

European Union leaders struggled yesterday to come up with a support mechanism to prevent Greece's debt crisis from spreading as a new opinion poll underlined what a tough time the government in Athens faces in convincing people to accept the latest round of austerity measures. EU leaders were still in discussions last night about the creation of a bailout system similar that to aid Greece for other members, such as Portugal and Spain, which could experience financial difficulty. Agreement, however, appeared to be hampered by German reluctance to put its name to anymore massive bailouts and the UK's unwillingness to commit money toward helping out countries that use the euro. Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg said it was vital to reach a deal. «We now see... wolf-pack behaviors [on markets] and if we will not stop these packs, even if it is self-inflicted weakness, they will tear the weaker countries apart.» The Brussels talks came as a survey conducted by Public Issue for Sunday's Kathimerini indicated Greeks are finding the severe public spending cuts and further tax hikes passed through Parliament last week very hard to swallow. The poll suggested that two-thirds of Greeks are against the measures, which only seem to have the support of 23 percent of the 500 people questioned. As unions prepare to announce another general strike this week, such action appears to have the approval of almost seven in 10 Greeks. In fact, six in 10 say that they intend to take part in protests. However, eight in 10 Greeks believe that the measures will be implemented regardless of the strikes. A member of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Athens, Poul Thomsen, told Sunday's Kathimerini that the measures could be adjusted according to the economy's performance. «Small adjustments will be made here and there because it is always difficult to predict precisely a country's growth rate,» he said. There is no forecast for growth in Greece until 2012.

Online