Greek President Gives Up Salary as Country on Razor's Edge
    2012-02-16 00:49:44     Xinhua       Web Editor: sunwanming

Greece has reached the razor's edge and needs to convince a growing number of eurozone partners who now want a Greek exit from the European common currency that it can succeed to tackle the debt crisis, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Wednesday.

"We face a growing number of people within the eurozone today who no longer want Greece as member of the zone. We must persuade them that we can achieve," Venizelos said while meeting with President Karolos Papoulias to brief him on the progress over the second international aid package to avoid a Greek default in March.

In a "symbolic act of solidarity" with ordinary Greeks who have suffered harsh salaries cuts over the past two years, Papoulias is giving up his salary, Venizelos said, noting that Greek peoples face a difficult dilemma between devastating financial collapse or more painful sacrifices.

According to the Greek state budget, the annual compensation granted to President Papoulias amounts to 283,694 euros (372,942 U.S dollars).

Venizelos stressed that the country stood on a razor's edge, as there are still some issues to be resolved over the details of the 130-billion-euro (170.9 billion dollars) EU/International Monetary Fund bailout program, the second since 2010 to be granted to debt-laden Greece.

A euro group meeting initially scheduled for later on Wednesday in Brussels was replaced by a telephone conference, as European counterparts were not satisfied with the commitments given by Athens so far in order to clear the release of the vital funds.

The Greek assembly passed on early Monday an additional package of austerity and reform measures attached to the debt deal.

But the international creditors expected more assurances by Wednesday on the way Greece will fill in a gap of some 325 million euros (427.24 million dollars) out of a total 3.2 billion euros (4.21 billion dollars) in spending cuts this year, as well as written commitments by the leaders of the two parties backing the interim administration of Lucas Papademos.

According to government sources, socialist PASOK party leader and former prime minister George Papandreou has signed a letter to implement the policies, but conservative New Democracy (ND) party chief Antonis Samaras has still not provided the commitment in written.

Local media, citing ND sources, said that Samaras will eventually send the letter supporting the painful effort to overcome the debt crisis under the bailout agreement, but retaining the stance that there should be some space left for a review on some policies to boost growth.

Samaras and other Greek officials have argued that the tough austerity imposed by lenders fuels deep recession.

In addition, according to media reports, European counterparts were not satisfied on Wednesday with the plan debated during a Greek cabinet meeting on late Tuesday that the 325-million-euro (427.24 million dollars) shortfall be covered with further cuts on pensions of some public organizations and defence spending.

Without a finalized bailout deal in coming weeks, Greece could go bankrupt on March 20, when a 14.5-billion-euro (19.06 billion dollars) bond repayment comes due.

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