GREECE’S FINANCE MINISTER has said he is “optimistic” that his fellow eurozone finance ministers will today sign off on a €130 billion lending package which will help his country avoid default.
Arriving in Brussels for this evening’s meeting of eurozone finance ministers, Evangelos Venizelos said Greece was “ready to conclude this long process” but was not willing to declare the bailout a done deal.
“I’m optimistic, but in any case we need clear political approval from the eurogroup,” Venizelos said.
“Also, we are ready to initiate the official procedure on the PSI,” he said, referring to the prospective deal with private bondholders which is dependant on Greece first securing enough cash to pay back their remaining obligations.
Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker, arriving earlier, said it was “the intention of nobody” to have Greece outside the eurozone, saying this would be a “bad solution” for both Greece and the euro as a whole.
Junior finance minister Brian Hayes, who is deputising for Michael Noonan at today’s summit, said the ultimate focus of today’s meeting was “to get to a situation of stability”.
“That’s the key issue we’ve got to drive within the European Union – we’ve got to get back to a growth agenda,” he said, describing the current focus on the debt crisis as a “bedevilled situation”.
The deal on the table to secure Greece’s bailout would be sufficient if it allowed the Greek economy to grow, he said.
“I think if we manage to get the debt to a sustainable level, economies will grow, we’ll get stability, and the entire eurozone will get out of this difficulty,” he said.
There has been fault on all sides, but now is the time to get this issue over the line. I’m confident that can happen, and I’m also confident that this year we’ll see the eurozone come out of the difficulties it has seen in the last 12 months.
The junior minister further added that he intended to raise the issue about Ireland’s ongoing renegotiation of the Anglo Irish Bank promissory notes on the sidelines of the meeting.