NEWS

Warning of a tough year ahead

As a team of experts from the European Commission and International Monetary Fund prepares to visit Athens this week for a second assessment of the impact of the government’s austerity measures, a top-ranking official has told Kathimerini that the country’s financial situation will get worse before it gets better. In comments published in yesterday’s Kathimerini, top European Union mediator Servas Deroose doused speculation about Greece going bankrupt but said a deepening recession would worsen until the middle of 2011. «Things will slowly begin to improve from then,» said Deroose, who played a key role in drafting an agreement signed between the Greek government and the IMF, EC and European Central Bank in March. Deroose said his delegation’s objectives were to «solve the short- and long-term problems of the deficit and public debt, and to ensure the viability of public finances.» A more long-term aim is to «harness the huge potential of the Greek economy for greater efficiency, growth and employment,» Deroose said. The official said the pact signed between Greece and its international creditors might signal hard times for many but claimed that, without it, the country’s budget deficit would have widened to 20 percent. According to Deroose, the strict implementation of austerity measures would «bring a revolution, not just in the Greek economy but in Greek society.» If authorities stick to the program, he said, then, three years from now, «there will be no economic crisis.» Prime Minister George Papandreou, in his latest interview over the weekend, stressed his conviction that Greece will emerge stronger from the crisis. In comments to Italian television channel Rai Uno, Papandreou said his government was committed to the «redistribution of obligations and wealth.» In a related development, President Karolos Papoulias declared: «The blame for Greece’s decline lies with the country’s political class.» Papoulias said the Greek public’s exasperation with politicians, as expressed in opinion polls, was «fair and justified» and called on the country’s politicians «to make democracy work.»