Greek Prime Minister Georges Papandreou
Greek Prime Minister Georges Papandreou said Sunday his country will emerge from its economic crisis "despite the difficulties" that still confront it one year after a EU and IMF bailout. "Easter symbolises the beginning of a new
life: Greece changes and is born again ... despite the difficulties," he told the nation in in his annual message for Orthodox Easter. "We will fight against pessimism and we will succeed," the prime minister said on public television, adding "we will succeed in creating a country of justice and development". In a separate message, Greek President Carolos Papoulias said he hoped "the resurrection of Christ helps the Greek people to surmount their difficulties. "Times are hard. I hope personally that we will surmount them," he said.
With insolvency looming a year ago, Athens was forced to appeal to its European Union peers and the International Monetary Fund for a bailout loan of 110 billion euros ($159 billion) in return for an overhaul of its economy. Now a year later, talk is on of restructuring Greece's soaring 340 billion euro debt, which the country insists is "viable", having already secured a repayment extension on its EU and IMF loan.
The government is expected to outline a medium term plan for 2012 to 2015 in the coming days that will include privatisation of state firms and buildings to reduce state spending to around 44 percent of gross domestic product by 2015 against the 2009 rate of 53 percent. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Evanguelos Venizelos said that Greece intended making army barracks and other military buildings in cities available for commercial or social use as part of the envisioned 50-billion-euro privatisation programme. Reducing military spending, which has in the past made a big contribution to Greece's debt, is one of the key points in the government's plan.