- Title: GREECE: Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker meets Greek Prime Minister Samaras
- Date: 22nd August 2012
- Summary: ATHENS, GREECE (AUGUST 22, 2012) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF PRIME MINISTERS OFFICE GREEK, LUXEMBOURG AND EUROPEAN UNION FLAGS OUTSIDE OFFICE FINANCE MINISTER YANNIS STOURNARAS ARRIVING AT PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE STOURNARAS WALKING UP THE STEPS AND ENTERING . CAR OF LUXEMBOURG PRIME MINISTER AND EUROGROUP CHIEF jEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER ARRIVING
- Embargoed: 6th September 2012 13:00
- Location: Greece
- Country: Greece
- Topics: European Union,Economy,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABYEG2HCO9OKGYA7GTUUQZ24PU
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Eurogroup Chief Jean-Claude Juncker holds talks with Greek Prime Minister as the government is still struggling to nail down the final cuts and push reforms.
Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker arrived in Athens on Wednesday (August 22) to hold talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on how Greece is progressing on reforms.
Juncker's visit in Greece signals the start of Samaras' European charm offensive to persuade European leaders that the debt-laden nation has the will to ram through unpopular reforms and deserves more time to do it.
With cash coffers running empty and renewed talk of a Greek euro zone exit without more aid, Samaras is under pressure to persuade his European counterparts that Greece has finally mustered the political courage to fulfill promises under its latest bailout.
Juncker, the most influential European policymaker to visit Athens since the conservative-led government took power in June, is expected to tell Samaras bluntly that Greece must carry out promised cuts and that little room for leeway exists.
That message is likely to be hammered home again to the Greek leader when he travels to Berlin on Friday (August 24) to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and to Paris a day later for talks with French President Francois Hollande.
Key to restoring credibility will be Greece's attempt to push through 11.5 billion euros of cuts over the next two years as demanded under the bailout, which Samaras' administration has yet to fully piece together after weeks of wrangling.
Samaras and his moderate leftist and Socialist allies have broadly agreed on the measures, but the government is still struggling to nail down the final cuts amid howls of protest over plans to slash pensions and put civil servants in a so-called labour reserve before laying them off.
The measures will be presented for approval to the "troika" of officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund due back in Athens early next month for a final verdict on whether to keep money flowing to Greece.
The country is hugely off track from targets under its bailout and EU officials expect a further debt restructuring will be likely - with the cost falling on the ECB and euro zone governments.
Greece blames the slippage on a deeper than expected recession that is now in its fifth year and which Athens has likened to America's "Great Depression". Nearly one out of four Greeks are jobless, and thousands of businesses have shuttered since the sovereign debt crisis exploded in 2009.
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