Greek PM: no 3rd bailout, will set out reform plan

AP News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2014 10:42 AM
Greek PM: no 3rd bailout, will set out reform plan

BERLIN (AP) — Greece isn't seeking another financial rescue and will soon set out a new economic reform program to underpin the recovery, the country's prime minister said Tuesday as he visited key creditor Germany.

Since 2010, Greece has relied on two bailout packages totaling 240 billion euros ($308 billion). Payments from eurozone partners end this year while those from the International Monetary Fund are due to conclude in 2016.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that "Greece can now stand on its own two feet and that we believe we do not require a new support package."

In return for the bailout money, Greece has had to implement a raft of austerity measures, such as cuts to spending and pensions, and enact a wide-ranging economic reform program.

Though proponents of the approach say it has stabilized the economy, unemployment has sky-rocketed and living standards across the country have fallen. After six years of recession that's seen the country's economy shrink by around a quarter, Greece is expected to start posting economic growth soon.

Samaras said Athens isn't seeking a "divorce" from the IMF, but that it has proven its credibility in implementing reforms.

"I think this cooperation will be concluded before the planned time," he said, without naming a specific point.

"Greece intends to propose — and will soon propose — its own framework to continue reforms in the years to come, beyond the timetable of the (bailout) agreements," Samaras said. "My country is firmly on the road of reforms that will bring competitiveness and an outward-looking economy. There is no going back."

Germany has been the single biggest contributor to Greece's bailouts. The possibility of early Greek elections next March has raised concern among rescue lenders that the government's reform course could be in danger.

Merkel sidestepped a question about the political uncertainty.

She said Samaras is leading Greece "with determination and on the basis of all international agreements and this is leading step by step to successes which will enable a better future for Greece."