NEWS

Venizelos says deal ‘a relief’ for economy

A few hours after returning to Athens from Brussels, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a press conference on Friday that the deal agreed on by euro zone leaders represented ?a strong unified European front protecting Greece? but he warned against complacency, noting that the agreement is dependent on a raft of tough reforms being implemented.

?This is a great relief for the Greek economy and it this will pass on to the real economy but it should not, under any circumstances, lead to a relaxing of our efforts,? Venizelos said. ?We must remain focused on meeting fiscal targets and curbing spending,? the minister said, noting that authorities were preparing a tougher crackdown on widespread tax evasion.

Venizelos added that the euro zone pact also offered ?an umbrella of protection for Greek banks? by guaranteeing their liquidity. This meant that Greeks can feel secure about their bank deposits, the minister said. But it was also a message to credit rating agencies that have consistently downgraded Greece. ?Any ratings from now on will have no practical impact,? he said.

The minister stressed that the government has ?great responsibilities to fulfill but we also have a great opportunity which we must grasp.? But he said that opposition parties should also do their bit, reaching out again to political rivals who have repeatedly rejected repeated appeals by the government for a broad political consensus that Greece?s foreign creditors have called for. ?The parties have the ability and the duty to carry out an honest and accurate assessment of the current situation,? Mr. Venizelos said, adding that ?every small act of consensus is valuable.?