Greek premier will meet with Merkel and Hollande in bailout extension talks
The Greek premier will be meeting with eurozone leaders this week to negotiate an extension to Greece's timetable for making financial reforms and retaining access to bailout funds.
Greece's premier embarked Wednesday on a diplomatic push to earn his debt-crippled nation more time to complete reforms and retain access to bailout loans, but a top European official said that any decision will depend on a report by international debt inspectors next month.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Athens protests
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs meetings of eurozone finance ministers and is also Luxembourg's prime minister, insisted Greece must remain within the euro. Its exit from the currency used by 17 European Union countries would hurt both to the country and the wider continent.
The meeting is the first of several Samaras will hold this week with European leaders to press the case for granting Athens more time to complete its reforms. He will be in Berlin on Friday to speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and in Paris on Saturday with French President Francois Hollande.
Since a series of rating downgrades reduced its government bonds to junk status, Greece has been unable to borrow from international markets to finance its high budget deficits. The country is now dependent on two international rescue loan packages from other eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund, which are preventing it from bankruptcy and potentially having to leave the euro.
In return, it has had to impose strict austerity measures, including cuts to salaries and pensions and repeated tax hikes. The cutbacks deepened a recession that is expected at the end of the year to reach a cumulative 20 percent since 2008, amid galloping unemployment that is now over 23 percent.