Greece?s dispute with the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank ? collectively known as the troika ? has continued despite an attempt by the creditors to apologize for any offense caused by comments about the country having to sell off 50 billion euros worth of assets.
?Our three institutions have full respect for the prerogatives and initiatives of the government in all areas of economic decision-making, and our role is to advise and support the government,? the troika said in a statement. ?It is regrettable if a different impression was perceived at any time.?
The government had issued a strongly-worded statement on Saturday, complaining about the representatives of its lenders talking about the privatization of state assets. Greece said this was ?unacceptable? and an attempt to meddle in the country?s domestic affairs.
The troika sought to settle any differences of opinion with its statement on Sunday.
“We recognize the difficult challenges facing the Greek economy and we have the deepest respect for the tremendous efforts being made by the Greek people,» the message read.
Nevertheless, Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou made it clear that the government would not be forced into selling state assets.
?We will commercially exploit public property but we will not sell off state land,? he told reporters.
?The decisions about how this will be done will be taken by the Greek government and nobody else,? Papaconstantinou added.
The minister was reacting to comments by European Commission representative Servaas Deroose reported in Sunday newspapers in Greece in which he suggests that the PASOK government flatly opposes privatization for ideological and cultural reasons and that Papaconstantinou was unable to put forward an alternative argument.
In his statement, the finance minister said that Deroose?s comments were ?inaccurate.?