Asmussen: Greece must press on with reforms

Greece can achieve a primary budget surplus this year and growth in 2014 if it sticks to economic reforms, but a return to bond markets will be challenging, European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen told Sunday’s To Vima newspaper.

Asmussen was in Athens this week to meet senior government officials and take stock of the economy.

His visit was overshadowed by speculation of a new bailout for Greece after comments by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble.

“Having a low but positive rate of growth next year is achievable, but there must be persistence with reforms,” Asmussen told the paper in an interview.

“I understand the difficult political situation and the small parliamentary majority, but what has been achieved with such political pain up to now must not be demolished. What’s the credible alternative solution?” he was quoted as saying.

“It is true that the debt level will rise in the next years and a full access to markets will be a challenge,” Asmussen was quoted as saying.

The ECB clarified that in the English version of the interview, Asmussen said that Greece’s debt level “would be elevated for years to come,” not that it would rise.