NEWS

Papandreou confers over crisis

As stock market in Europe and elsewhere continued to tumble Monday, Prime Minister George Papandreou spoke with top European officials, urging them to speed up the process to secure Greek funding for next month and beyond.

Papandreou, who had a telephone conversation with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Sunday, also spoke to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker Monday.

According to sources, the discussions focused on three key areas: the reforms being carried out by the government, further measures that the eurozone can take to bolster the single currency, and the current market volatility threatening the euro (which prompted the European Central Bank to declare it would buy Italian bonds).

Papandreou proposed that the eurozone adopt more convincing measures to calm markets. He suggested that the region should move more quickly to issue Eurobonds, to impose a financial transaction tax and to strengthen the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

Papandreou also urged the European leaders to ensure that there would be no complications in Greece receiving its next loan installment, which will amount to 8 billion euros and is due in September. It is likely that Athens will not receive this loan with the improved terms agreed in Brussels on July 21.

Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos stressed in a statement that the wider turbulence did not mean Greece could let up in its efforts to regain fiscal balance.

?The Greek problem will be solved when we collect more than we spend and create a primary budget surplus,? he said. ?We need a productive and competitive public sector and an outward-looking economy that will help turn around the current model, where there are three times as many imports as exports.?

Papandreou met with Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Monday to check on the progress of reforms in public healthcare, which are expected to deliver 1 billion euros in savings by the end of the year.

New Democracy?s economic affairs spokesman Notis Mitarakis said the latest developments were a vindication of the conservative party?s positions.

?Today, in Greece and abroad, they are slowly coming around to the positions of [party leader] Antonis Samaras,? he said, while also calling for Eurobonds to be issued.