NEWS

Creditor states push for Greek support for austerity

The pressure from creditor states for Greece to back austerity measures mounted over the weekend, with Jean-Claude Juncker, chairman of Eurogroup of eurozone finance ministers, using some of his harshest language yet, saying that a Greek default could not be ruled out if a deal on the terms of a second bailout is not reached.

?If we should determine that everything is going wrong in Greece, then there would not be a new program, then that would mean that in March a declaration of bankruptcy would occur,? Juncker told German news magazine Der Spiegel. The possibility of bankruptcy should spur Greek politicians into implementing reforms, he added.

In Germany meanwhile, patience with Greece was clearly running out. According to the results of a poll published in mass-selling newspaper Bild am Sonntag, the majority of Germans feel the euro bloc would be better off without debt-wracked Greece. More than half (53 percent) of Germans polled said they thought it would be better for the euro if Greece returned to the drachma. Only 34 percent opposed a Greek eurozone exit. An overwhelming 80 percent said they were against releasing additional rescue funding if measures are not implemented by Greece.

Meanwhile, Jorgos Chatzimarkakis, a German MEP of Greek descent, told Bild that Greece is in need of a new image. Chatzimarkakis proposed that Greece change its name to Hellas and rewrite its constitution as a way of starting afresh. ?For many in Europe, the name ?Greece? stands for a broken political system, nepotism,? he said, calling for a new political system.

The MEP also argued that the funding Europe is pumping into Greece is going to debt repayment but not tackling the country?s problems. ?Greece needs economic growth,? he said. In comments over the weekend Peter Altmaier, the chief whip for German Chancellor Angela Merkel?s Christian Democrats, expressed a different view. The concept of buying growth with government money was adopted in the 2008 and fueled the global debt crisis, Tagesspiegel quoted Altmaier as saying. Such a stimulus plan is no longer feasible as there is no money left to spend, Altmaier is reported to have said.