May 19, 2013
Greek conservative takes bailout pledge to the wire
Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras will send a letter of commitment to the terms of an EU/IMF bailout deal within the day, a party source said with the country's bankruptcy rescue hanging in the balance.
Euro zone finance ministers had cancelled face-to-face talks on the US$170 billion deal today, saying they had yet to receive written pledges from Greek political party leaders to stick to punishing spending cuts, or clarification of all the savings.
"The letter will be dispatched within the day," a New Democracy party source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Doubt has focused on Samaras, Greece's likely next prime minister and a strong critic of the austerity measures.
Ministers of the Eurogroup downgraded the Brussels meeting - originally planned for 1700 GMT - to a conference call.
Greece needs the funds by next month to avoid a messy bankruptcy.
The Eurogroup is next due to meet on Monday, but Greece has said it must initiate a debt swap deal with private sector bondholders by Friday if it is to meet a March 20 for 14.5 billion euros in debt repayments.
The Eurogroup had asked Greece to clarify how it would fill a 325-million-euro gap in budget cuts promised for 2012 and to persuade all party leaders to sign a commitment to implement austerity measures after an election expected in April.
"It's true we are asking the Greeks for some extremely painful sacrifices and I understand their anger, but Greece has made many errors in its past," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told France Info radio on Wednesday.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos discussed the gap in the 3.3-billion-euro austerity program late into Tuesday evening. But there was no official clarification of where the savings would come from.