Greek PM calls for firm EU rescue plan
Papandreou may turn to IMF
Last Updated: Thursday, March 18, 2010 | 12:08 PM ET
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou called Thursday for a firmer bailout plan from the European Union in order to ease market pressure on his country and lower its borrowing rates.
Papandreou told a committee of the European Parliament that "this is not to be asking for money, but to have some form of an instrument on the table."Riot police fire stun grenades to disperse demonstrators outside parliament in Athens on Tuesday during a brief flare-up of violence at a protest against government austerity. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press Photo)
He said such a plan "alone would be enough to make sure that the speculators would be warned off."
The prime minister said that without EU agreement on a plan, Greece would turn to the International Monetary Fund for a financial rescue. He added that he didn't see the IMF asking for tougher measures.
EU leaders meet next week and at that time may assess measures to help Greece.
Papandreou said his country "cannot sustain" the tough austerity program necessary to get its deficit under control if it is forced to pay high costs to borrow.
He said Thursday that financial markets are selling Greek taxpayers short, as his government's efforts to reduce its deficit "cannot be executed as quickly as futures or credit defaults swaps."
He said traders take "all the efforts that we are making and put them into their pockets."
The prime minister's comments came the same day the country's statistics agency announced that Greek unemployment rose to 10.3 percent in the last three months of 2009.
That's its highest since 2005 and the jump from 7.9 per cent in the same period in 2008 is the largest in 11 years.
Greece's tough austerity program of slashing civil service pay and pensions and hiking taxes has led to a backlash from unions, which has responded with a series of strikes.With files from The Associated Press
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