Greece hopes for more time to set up austerity
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Jeff Horwich: Greece’s current government took power in June — since then the world’s been waiting for the specific plan to push things forward with Europe. This morning, we may have a glimpse of it. The Financial Times this morning has a look at the plan Greece’s prime minister will bring to the table next week with German and French leaders.
For more, the BBC’s Mark Lowen is with me from Athens. Hi Mark.
Mark Lowen: Hi Jeff.
Horwich: The headline here is that Greece wants more time to implement the austerity cuts; get their budget under control. We’ve heard that before. How are they pitching it this time?
Lowen: Well, the reports that the Financial Times seems to have got a copy of suggests that the Greek prime minister, Antonis Samaras, will present that Greece should have two extra years to reduce its deficit. And for that, it would need 20 billion euros extra. The big question is whether this is going to be accepted in Berlin and Paris. And that is pretty doubtful, I have to say, because the mood music from both of those capitals for the last few weeks has very much been that there will be no room for maneuver; that Greece must honor its commitments and stick to what it has signed up to.
Horwich: This was supposed to be the Greek government that would be able to strike a deal with its European partners. Does this look like just more of the same old Greece?
Lowen: Well, the Greek government that came into power after the election in June has said that it will stick to the austerity path ahead. The question is whether the government is going to be able to honor the promise it made to the electorate, which is to renegotiate some of the terms of the bailout. So that is why there is so much pressure on the prime minister when he does go to Berlin and Paris next week to try to get some kind of concessions from those capitals. If he doesn’t — if he gets a slap in the face and comes back to Athens with nothing — then really, there will be a very, very big backlash I think, back here in Greece, with people saying, “Look, you have not lived up to what you promised us.” Then probably the social unrest will begin.
Horwich: Great context from the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens. Thanks very much.