Greek survival vital for euro zone


Greece will stave off default not only for its own sake but because its survival is vital for the euro zone and the global economy, Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos has said. 

With help from its EU partners and fresh determination, the debt-ridden euro zone member will regain its fiscal sovereignty as soon as possible and aims to return to markets in the middle of 2014, as expected, the minister said.

"We will make it, because this is vital not only for Greece but for the stability of the whole euro zone and the global economy, because in Greece the stamina of the financial system is being tested," headded.

Appointed in a June 17th reshuffle and speaking after euro zone finance ministers approved on Saturday a critical, fifth tranche of a bailout loan to avert default, Mr Venizelos said he was grateful to EU partners and vowed to fulfil his obligations.

He said he would redouble efforts to raise €1.7 billion in privatisations by September, as agreed with the EU and the IMF who pulled Greece back from the brink of bankruptcy with a €110 billion bailout a year ago.

Greece must deliver €50 billion in proceeds from a massive and complicated state selloff by 2015, including €5 billion this year. So far, in 18 months in office, the socialists have yet to launch any privatisations.

Amid the worst recession in nearly 40 years, good news for the economy comes from the tourism sector, which makes up about 15 per cent of GDP. Revenues are seen rising by about 10 per cent this year after a 25 per cent slump in 2009-2010, Mr Venizelos said.

"The data we have so far from the Tourism Ministry and the Bank of Greece are encouraging that it will be a good year. Revenues will rise by about 10 per cent," he said.

A tough political veteran who has held several portfolios and prepared the 2004 Olympics, Mr Venizelos took in his stride comments by Jean-Claude Juncker that Greece's sovereignty must be severely limited during the bailout programme.

"Mr Juncker is a great Philhellene (friend of Greece)," Mr Venizelos said. "He doubtless wants to always help Greece and the euro zone overcome its problems and, primarily, to avoid systemic dangers.

"There is no doubt we have very tough fiscal limitations and we must restore our fiscal sovereignty as soon as possible through the successful implementation of our programme," he added.