Stournaras: primary surplus, growth needed to return to bond markets

Greece must achieve a budget surplus excluding interest payments and growth before it returns to bond markets, and the euro zone needs a common debt market and a banking union to exit the debt crisis, finance minister Yannis Stournaras said on Friday.

Stournaras’ comments came a day after Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met US President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the crisis which has plunged Greece in a deep recession.

“I have set two conditions for Greece to access (bond) markets. The first is a primary surplus and the second one is a return to growth,» Stournaras told Greek private Mega TV.

Athens was shut out of international capital markets in 2010 and resorted to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for financial help to avert bankruptcy.

Greece aims to achieve a primary budget surplus this year in hopes of further debt relief by its international lenders.

Stournaras said the government would continue with reforms and its fiscal consolidation program to keep receiving the bailout funds that have kept it afloat and noted the euro zone must also tackle its core problems.

“(The euro zone needs) a banking union…an economic policy which combines fiscal consolidation and growth, not all countries can impose austerity,» he said.

“And most importantly: a common debt market, but this probably at the end of the road,» the minister said.