No debt restructuring, insists minister

Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou has told Sunday’s Kathimerini that Greece will not be restructuring its debt even though a meeting of eurozone finance ministers today may not lead to the immediate extension of the repayment period for its 110-billion-euro loans. «The press reports [about debt restructuring] are not true and analysts’ and markets’ predictions are not gospel,» said Papaconstantinou, adding that pressure on Greece would be eased when its loan repayment period is extended. The minister said the EU has agreed to this measure but that it was not yet clear if this would be rubber stamped at today’s Eurogroup meeting. «The Eurogroup’s announcement that the process will begin has already been made,» he told Sunday’s Kathimerini. «So, when the European Commission and the eurozone members are ready technically and politically, the official decision will be announced and the process will begin immediately.» The eurozone finance ministers will also discuss today increasing the lending capacity in the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) from 750 billion euros. Papaconstantinou said he believed that the decision would be taken today or at a subsequent leaders’ summit. He also brushed off last week’s decision by Fitch ratings agency to cut Greece’s credit rating to junk. He argued that the decisions of agencies like Fitch are not based on whether Greece is meeting the targets it has been set by the EU and the IMF but on mid-term prospects. «The agencies’ decisions must be dictated by the actual facts, not predictions for the future, which are based on a lot of baseless assumptions.»