Prime Minister Antonis Samaras declared on Tuesday, in a speech to his parliamentary group, that his coalition government could reduce unemployment by 10 percent over the next four years despite a deepening recession which he said could be contained this year, allowing the country to return to the markets in 2013.
In his speech, Samaras appeared to suggest that any renegotiation of the terms of the country?s debt program could only take place once Greece has started implementing agreed-to reforms, noting however that the recession could be worse than predicted with the economy contracting by more than 7 percent. The premier also condemned certain European officials who doubt Greece?s ability to emerge from the crisis, describing them as ?saboteurs of the Greek effort.?
Samaras added that his government was determined to ensure that labor unions no longer enjoy the impunity they have done for years, noting that the authorities? intervention to break a nine-month union blockade of the Halyvourgia steel plant was indicative of the coalition?s resolve in ?protecting the citizen?s right to work.? Within the current climate of deepening unemployment, the government ?will not sit by and watch employees lose their jobs,? he said.
Samaras is expected to have talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on Thursday when the latter visits Athens for the first time in three years.