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'Grexit' scenarios no longer in play, Samaras says after meeting Finnish PM

Samaras Katainen
Scenarios of Greece leaving the euro were no longer in play, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras underlined on Thursday, in statements after meeting Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen. "No one is talking about a 'grexit' any more but of a 'grecovery'," the Greek premier added.

Samaras avoided comment on the report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday, which referred to initial mistakes in the Greek fiscal consolidation programme. The Greek premier referred only briefly to his early criticism of the programme, noting that the prime minister's job was not just to criticise but to act and correct mistakes.

"This is what I've been doing for a year, correcting the mistakes," he added.

Samaras said that the government's current goal was to meet and even exceed programme targets, thus "securing a success for Greece that will also be a success for Europe". Stressing that he was not an optimist but a "pragmatist," he insisted that Greece was now entering the "optimistic scenario" and that the government will do everything in its power as fast as possible to lead the country of the crisis.

Katainen said that Greeks were going through a difficult time but that the country had a strong leadership, that it had taken harsh measures and taxes but the results were already becoming apparent.

Questioned about a possible further restructuring of Greece's debt, the Finnish premier said that the issue was not currently "on the table" and that the Eurogroup will return to it. He refused to comment on the IMF report, noting only that European leaders, acting in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, had been anxious to contain the spread of the crisis to the Eurozone and world economy.

Regarding the guarantees demanded by Finland to participate in the bailout for Greece, Katainen said only that the relevant actions were carried out publicly and that he does desire a Greek default.

Samaras, on his part, replied that the issue concerned the Finnish state and Greek banks, which had given the guarantees, not the Greek state.

The two prime ministers discussed the problems caused by high unemployment and agreed on the need for programmes to help young people find work.

Samaras reported that several Finnish companies had contacted him, expressing an interest in carrying out energy sector investments in Greece, and he referred to the potential contribution of Greek oil and gas fields to Europe's energy supply.

In his statements, the Greek prime minister emphasised that the country had worked hard to overturn fears of a Greek exit from the euro, meeting targets month by month and rapidly reducing the public deficit, as well as carrying out reforms and making Greece friendly to investments.

"We expect an increase in tourism, we are carrying out structural changes, expecting investments, opening up markets," he said.

He also emphasised the high social cost of the austerity programme in Greece, including the high levels of unemployment, especially among the young, calling for European-level decisions to tackle this problem.

Samaras: 'Greeks are not Fascists'

In an interview with the Finnish newspaper "Helsinking Sanoat" published ahead of his arrival on Thursday, Samaras referred to the rise of the far right and the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece but dismissed this as a reaction to the crisis.

"Greeks are not Fascists, they have only lost hope. People need to believe that their sacrifices will bring results," he said.

The Greek premier again emphasised the enormous progress made in fiscal reform and stressed that 'grexit' scenarios lay firmly in the past, while adding that the current situation was a 'social nightmare' and that 2013 would be the toughest year yet before a recovery begins in 2014.

Source: Athens News Agency

Last Updated Friday, 07 June 2013
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