Greece making 'superhuman effort' on debts: PM
Prime Minister George Papandreou said Tuesday that Greece was making a "superhuman effort" to reduce its debt mountain and called for an end to "punishment and scorn" from critics.
Speaking at a conference organised by German employer federation BDI, Papandreou said that the criticism levelled at Athens was "deeply frustrating".
"Frustrating not only at a political level, where a superhuman effort is being made to met stringent targets in a deepening recession but frustrating for the Greeks who are making these painful sacrifices and difficult changes," added the prime minister.
It is going to take "years to make these major changes," he said, adding: "We are simply asking for respect for the facts."
"If people feel only punishment and scorn, this crisis will not become an opportunity, it will become a lost cause. And we are determined to make this a success."
Papandreou's speech came at the beginning of a crunch week for Greece, still waiting for international auditors to resume their assessment of their efforts to tackle its debt mountain before deciding whether to disburse the next slice of aid.
Greek authorities say they need the eight-billion-euro (11-billion-dollar) to continue paying the bills, amid growing social unrest and increasing speculation the country will default and plunge the euro into crisis.
Authorities said Greece may announce a number of privatisation deals this week, as the debt-hit country came under increasing pressure from its creditors to meet tight fiscal deadlines.
"I can guarantee that Greece will live up to all its commitments. I promise you we Greeks will soon fight our way back to growth and prosperity after this period of pain," vowed Papandreou.
Ahead of his speech, Papandreou received a lengthy ovation from the assembled German business leaders. BDI chief Hans-Peter Keitel said the applause was a "sign of thanks and respect" for his efforts.
Later Tuesday (1800 GMT), Papandreou was due to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was also scheduled to address the BDI at 0950 GMT.
© 2011 AFP