Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has assured the European Central Bank of his commitment to putting Athens’ finances in order. Meanwhile, protesters back in Athens made clear their feelings about austerity.
At a meeting with in Frankfurt on Tuesday, Samaras discussed his government's progress in slashing spending with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
The Greek premier told ECB officials that he and his government were committed "to getting the adjustment program back on track and continuing the necessary reforms for Greece to regain competitiveness and put its economy and public finances on a solid footing."
For its part, the ECB said in a largely positive statement that obstacles still had to be overcome. "Both parties agreed that Greece has already taken significant steps towards budgetary consolidation and economic modernization, but that major challenges remain," the statement said.
After the meeting, Samaras told Greek reporters he had praised Draghi's actions to bring stability to the eurozone "so that the attacks by the speculators finally come to an end."
There was also praise for Athens in the German parliament, where Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the country had made "substantial progress in reducing its budget deficits."
'Men in black' meeting delayed
However, in Athens, protesters from the Communist-affiliated PAME union delayed a meeting between auditors from the "troika" group - the European Commission, the ECB, and the International Monetary Fund - and Labor Minister Yannis Vroutsis.
Demonstrators blocked the entrance to the Greek labour ministry where the meeting to discuss austerity measures began two hours late.
Banners were unfurled outside the ministry's main entrance bearing the slogan "Troika, IMF, ECB - Get out of here!" The minister declined to comment on the content of the talks once they did take place, saying only that the discussions would continue at a later date.
The troika auditors, known in Greece as "the men in black," had said that the discussion should take place at a hotel, the semi-official Athens News Agency said. However, the meeting was reported to have taken place at the ministry at Vroutsis' insistence.
rc/mz (AFP, dpa, Reuters)