As the government awaits the first vital tranche of a multi-billion-euro loan from the European Union today, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed that the cash is not a bailout for Greece but a helping hand, which, along with a series of austerity measures, will get the debt-ridden country back on its feet. «We are not begging for alms – we are asking for loans which will be repaid at high interest,» Papandreou told the German business daily Handelsblatt in an interview published yesterday. The premier, who traveled to Madrid yesterday for a summit of politicians from EU and Latin American countries and is due in Lebanon later this week to promote investment, said that Greece still had potential. «Greece constitutes a good investment, of this I am certain,» he said. Papandreou said the austerity measures pushed through by his government, despite strong public opposition, showed that his administration has the «political will to deal with this crisis.» «No other country has enforced such harsh cuts in recent decades. Do not underestimate our determination,» Papandreou said. «I believe we can enforce our program but we must also ensure that the weakest in our society will not be destroyed,» he added. The leader of the conservative opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, who has criticized the government’s handling of the debt crisis, yesterday met with representatives of smaller parties to investigate possible alignments. After meeting Aleka Papariga, head of the Communist Party (KKE), Samaras said «disagreement does not always mean alienation,» indicating that not much common ground had been found. Samaras is today to meet Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA).