NEWS

Greece says rescue funds ‘not needed’

As eurozone officials reportedly agreed on the terms of a possible bailout for debt-ridden Greece yesterday, government officials said the country was not seeking the activation of a rescue plan involving European Union and International Monetary Fund loans. «We have said that Greece does not intend to make use of the mechanism but it is very important for our country for this safety net to exist,» Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou said following talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou. Papaconstantinou indicated, however, that the government was keen to see the conditions attached to the much-vaunted rescue plan. «Over the past few days there has been an attempt to specify this aid mechanism, as had been foreseen, and to determine how it would operate,» the minister said. Late last night reports emerged from Brussels that eurozone officials had reached an agreement on the terms of a rescue package for Greece. A source told Reuters that the deal was «almost a carbon copy of International Monetary Fund terms,» which would mean that Greece would borrow a reported 20 to 25 billion euros at a rate of around 5 percent, significantly lower than the 7.5 percent markets were demanding earlier in the week. Government sources told Kathimerini yesterday that ongoing talks in Brussels were not only of concern to Greece but to the European Union as a whole as they aimed to finalize support structures for stability in the eurozone. According to the same sources, Papandreou discussed ongoing developments with his Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and other EU member state leaders by telephone. Earlier in the day the French and Italian leaders both pledged to support a possible financial support package for Greece. «Greece has all our support,» said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on the sidelines of a bilateral cooperation summit in Paris. During a joint news conference with Berlusconi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed that a common European Union relief plan for Greece is in place and that «we are ready to activate it at any time.»