ECONOMY

‘Not obvious’ that Athens needs help

Greece «hopefully» won’t need International Monetary Fund aid, though it is ready to help if needed, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF’s managing director, said yesterday. «If the Greeks ask us we will be there, but hopefully they won’t need our help,» Strauss-Kahn said in Warsaw. «We will be ready to help if Greece asks us, but today it’s not obvious that it will be absolutely necessary.» Leaders of the 16-nation euro region last week endorsed a Franco-German proposal of IMF and bilateral loans at market interest rates, while expressing confidence that Greece won’t need the outside help to finance itself. The plan would only be triggered if Greece runs out of fundraising options. Under the deal, the IMF would put up a third of funds if a rescue package were needed, with the rest coming from the eurozone, but key details about the conditions under which it might be requested are still unclear. The involvement of the IMF, a condition imposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was agreed over the objections of the European Central Bank and in the face of reluctance from other EU states including France. The Greek debt crisis has also shown that economic leadership in the European Union is not strong enough and better coordination is vital, Strauss-Kahn told a television debate yesterday. He said he hoped Greece would not need outside help to overcome its difficulties but added its debt woes had exposed real problems of policing budget rules within the eurozone.