Greece has made 'superhuman' sacrifices, says minister

15.02.2012 08:58

BBC: Greece's public order minister has said the government has made "superhuman" efforts to comply with austerity demands made by the eurozone.

Christos Papoutsis said Europe should act responsibly, after it was announced that a meeting in Brussels on the bailout had been cancelled.

Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker said face-to-face talks would be replaced by a conference call.

He said Greece had not showed that it was committed to the austerity plan.

Ministers have demanded Greece find an extra 325m euros of savings, in return for 130bn-euro bailout ($170bn, £109bn) bailout package.

Athens needs the rescue deal to avoid defaulting on its debt next month.

Deputies expelled
"Greece has made all the efforts that it needed to do, and the people cannot take any more,'' Mr Papoutsis said after a Cabinet meeting.

"The government is making superhuman efforts and we have reached the limits of the social and economic system. From now on, Europe has to take the responsibility.''

On Tuesday, Mr Juncker said the talks, due to take place on Wednesday, would be replaced by a conference call, saying technical work with Greece was still needed "in a number of areas".

Finance ministers had not received assurances from leaders of Greek political parties on a programme of proposed cuts, Mr Juncker was quoted by Reuters as saying.

As well as 17 ministers from nations that use the euro, the president of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi and the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, had also been due to attend the meeting.

The latest bailout was agreed in principle by EU leaders in October, conditional on Greece adopting further measures to cut its deficit and restructure its economy.

On Sunday, Greek MPs approved extra cutbacks, but parties had to expel more than 40 deputies for failing to back the bill.

Thousands protested in Athens, where there were widespread clashes and buildings were set on fire. Violent protests were reported in cities across the country.

On Tuesday, an official report showed that the decline of the Greek economy accelerated in the final three months of 2011.

The estimate showed that, compared with a year earlier, Greek GDP contracted by 7% in the fourth quarter of 2011.

That is an acceleration from the 5% contraction in the third quarter.

The report also shows that the Greek economy shrank 6% last year, an increase on earlier estimates and the fifth year of recession.