NEWS

Papandreou rounds off confidence-building Finland trip

Prime Minister George Papandreou is due to complete his visit to Finland on Thursday after holding talks with his counterpart Mari Kiviniemi and European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn.

After visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin earlier in the week, Papandreou flew to Helsiniki on Wednesday a part of an effort to gather support for Greece’s position ahead of a March 24-25 European Union leaders’ summit.

Papandreou is hoping that his EU counterparts will agree to the repayment period for Greece’s 110-billion-euro emergency loan package being extended and the interest rate being lowered.

Kiviniemi said on Wednesday that Finland is pleased with Greece’s efforts to put its economy in order.

“We are, in Finland, satisfied with the measures Greece has taken to balance its national economy, and we expect that Greece will continue to carry out difficult structural reforms in the coming months, as there is lot to be done,» Kiviniemi said.

Papandreou said his government had taken the majority of decision needed to get its economy on the right track.

“Still we want better transparency, better management in the public sector, develop public properties, bring in new investments and to be able to privatize in order to repay debt and spur economic growth,» he said

The Greek prime minister insisted that Athens would not be restructuring or defaulting on its debt and would meet the financial commitments it has made to its European partners.

“I can guarantee you that we will pay back with interest and Finnish taxpayers have nothing to worry about,» Papandreou said.

Speaking on the day of a general strike and anti-austerity measures in Greece, Papandreou said that he sympathized with demonstrators.

“Sometimes I would like to be out there protesting myself because I am not happy about what is happening, but it isn’t enough to protest. We have to change our country, and we are determined to do so,» he said.