NEWS

Eurozone exit not in the cards, LAOS chief says

Greece will not have to exit the eurozone, Giorgos Karatzaferis, leader of the populist right-wing party in the coalition government, said on Monday.

?Greece won’t leave Europe. All these blackmails are in the context of negotiations,? Karatzaferis said Monday in an interview with Radio 9, adding that ?we have more sovereignty than some people think.?

Debt-wracked Greece is under intense pressure from foreign lenders — the EU and the IMF — to adopt further austerity measures. On Sunday interim Prime Minister Lucas Papademos struck a tentative deal with the three party leaders in his coalition, including Karatzaferis, to boost economic competitiveness and extend spending cuts after euro area finance chiefs said an increase in the 130 billion-euro ($170 billion) aid package wasn?t forthcoming.

?What Europe wants is that we come up with the requisite measures,? Karatzaferis said, while praising conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras for his role during the negotiations. The two parties have sought to take credit for defending the so-called 13th and 14th salaries against troika pressure to have them scrapped in a bid to boost Greek competitiveness.

Karatzaferis on Monday said that the threat on bonus salaries seemed to ease, adding that Greece’s minimum wage — currently at 751 euros per month (gross) — would be kept above Portuguese levels.

Analysts have said that a big cut in the basic wage would have the same, or even worse, effect on salaries. Wage negotiations between employers and unions are traditionally held on the basis of the country’s minimum wage.

?We will work along with the Greek people to make the country completely free and sovereign,? Karatzaferis said, while attacking PASOK socialists for ?failing to grasp the magnitude of the crisis.?

Papademos aims to finalize the details of the agreement with PASOK, ND and LAOS during a meeting later on Monday.