PM: Greece over halfway to recovery

Greece's caretaker PM claims that most Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone, despite frequent anti-austerity demonstrations.

Story highlights

  • Greece's caretaker PM claims that most Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone
  • Frequent anti-austerity demonstrations are seen in Greece
  • Papademos said Greece might need help if it cannot return to financial markets by 2015

Greece's caretaker prime minister insists that a "large, silent majority" of Greeks are willing to do whatever is needed to stay in the eurozone, despite near-daily anti-austerity demonstrations.

Lucas Papademos said Greece was determined to avoid another debt restructuring and its political leaders were prepared to put aside differences to implement structural and fiscal reforms.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Papademos expressed confidence that Greece's downward economic spiral would prove temporary. "I am convinced that we are more than halfway along the path to economic recovery -- although the fiscal consolidation process will last longer," he said. "Positive growth rates should be achieved within less than two years," he said.

Mr Papademos's defiance comes in spite of widespread fears outside Greece that its economic situation makes exit from the eurozone a distinct possibility. He admitted that Greece might need more outside support if it was unable to return to financial markets by 2015.

However, Mr Papademos argued that implementing the agreed reform programme, and extra measures to boost growth, would turn a vicious downward spiral of fiscal austerity and economic contraction into "a virtuous circle of structural reform, increasing activity and faster fiscal consolidation".

Full implementation of the programme should also eliminate the possibility of another government debt restructuring, Mr Papademos said. "We will do whatever is needed to ensure that this was the last restructuring of Greek sovereign debt."

Future of Greece in Europe
Future of Greece in Europe

    JUST WATCHED

    Future of Greece in Europe

MUST WATCH

Future of Greece in Europe 02:34
More bailouts on the way for Greece?
More bailouts on the way for Greece?

    JUST WATCHED

    More bailouts on the way for Greece?

MUST WATCH

More bailouts on the way for Greece? 02:51
Campaign aims to boost Greece's image
Campaign aims to boost Greece's image

    JUST WATCHED

    Campaign aims to boost Greece's image

MUST WATCH

Campaign aims to boost Greece's image 04:51

Greek leaders are going ahead with national elections in late April or early May -- a decision criticised by Germany. However, the former European Central Bank vice-president, who took over as caretaker prime minister in November, said reforms would continue under any government.

"This is the will of the majority of the Greek people," he said and would "be taken very carefully into account by the political parties". A main achievement of his government had been to forge "a higher degree of consensus" on implementing the latest bailout programme.

Mr Papademos said: "Almost all opinion surveys have systematically indicated that a large majority of the people -- I have seen figures ranging between 70 per cent and 80 per cent -- very much support Greece's continuing participation in the euro area and this implies that, despite the sacrifices and the short term adjustment costs, they are willing to do what has to be done in order for the country to remain in the euro."

Mr Papademos revealed plans to strengthen the office of prime minister to ensure continuity under a new government. He was careful not to rule out continuing as prime minister after the election if there was insufficient support for an alternative candidate.

With election preparations intensifying, Greece's socialist Pasok party held a leadership ballot on Sunday, although Evangelos Venizelos, the finance minister, was the sole candidate to succeed former premier George Papandreou. A socialist official said turnout by party members and supporters was higher than expected. Mr Venizelos is expected to resign his cabinet post on Monday to focus on rebuilding Pasok, which is trailing well behind the conservative New Democracy party according to opinion polls.

        Markets in crisis

      • German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble during a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on June 25, 2013 in Berlin.

        Schaeuble: 'Don't see' bailouts

        German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says the eurozone's problems are not solved, but "we are in a much better shape than we used to be some years ago."
      • IBIZA, SPAIN - AUGUST 21:  A man dives into the sea in Cala Salada beach on August 21, 2013 in Ibiza, Spain. The small island of Ibiza lies within the Balearics islands, off the coast of Spain. For many years Ibiza has had a reputation as a party destination. Each year thousands of young people gather to enjoy not only the hot weather and the beaches but also the array of clubs with international DJ's playing to vast audiences. Ibiza has also gained a reputation for drugs and concerns are now growing that the taking and trafficking of drugs is spiralling out of control.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

        Spain keeps partying

        Summer could not have come soon enough for Lloret de Mar, a tourist resort north of Barcelona. Despite the country's troubles, it's partying.
      • The Euro logo is seen in front of the European Central bank ECB prior to the press conference following the meeting of the Governing Council in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, on April 4, 2013.

        OECD: Slow recovery for Europe

        The global recovery has two speeds: That of the stimulus-fed U.S. and that of the austerity-starved eurozone, according to a new report.
      • The flags of the countries which make up the European Union, outside the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

        Europe's new threat: Slow decay

        The "rich man's club" of Europe faces economic decay as it struggles to absorb Europe's "poor people", according to economic experts.
      • Packed beaches and Brit pubs? Not necessarily. Here's what drew travelers to one of Spain's most beautiful regions in the first place

        Spain aims for big tourist summer

        Spain's economic crisis is in its sixth straight year yet tourism, worth 11% of GDP, is holding its own, one of the few bright spots on a bleak horizon.
      • Photographer TTeixeira captured these images from a May Day protest in Porto, Portugal, Wednesday by demonstrators angered by economic austerity measures. "People protested with great order, but showed discontent against the government who they blame for this economic crisis," she said. "They want the government to resign and the Troika [European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank] out of this country."

        May Day protesters flood Europe

        As European financial markets close for the spring celebration of May Day, protesters across Europe and beyond have taken to the streets to demonstrate.
      • Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic delivers a speech in Mostar, on April 9, 2013. Prime Ministers from Bosnia's neighboring countries arrived in Bosnia with their delegations to attend the opening ceremony of "Mostar 2013 Trade Fair".

        Croatia PM: We need Italy to recover

        As Croatia prepares to enter the 27-nation European Union, the country's Prime Minister says Italy must return to being the "powerhouse of Europe."
      • Anti-eviction activists and members of the Platform for Mortgage Victims (PAH) take part in a protest against the government's eviction laws in front of the Popular Party (PP) headquarters in Mallorca on April 23, 2013.

        Spain's unemployment hits record

        Spain's unemployment rate rose to a record high of 27.2% in the first quarter of 2013, the Spanish National Institute of Statistics said Thursday.
      • People protest against the Spanish laws on house evictions outside the Spanish parliament on February 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.

        Welcome to Madrid: City of protests

        Spain has seen hundreds of protests since the "Indignados" movement erupted in 2011, marches and sit-ins are now common sights in the capital.