Dutch finance minister worried about Greek measures

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Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager said Wednesday he was worried about Greece falling behind in its economic reforms, key to further aid for the debt-ridden country.

"I am worried about the fact that Greece is running behind. That we cannot accept as the international community, we cannot accept it as the Netherlands," he told public broadcaster NOS.

He warned that aid would stop, not only to Greece, but all countries which did not implement austerity measures to get their economies in order.

"Far-reaching austerity measures, economic measures are painful," said the Dutch government's top economic official.

"But they must absolutely happen. If they don't, aid will stop," he warned in an interview, shown on the NOS's website.

The Dutch government was preparing for different economic scenarios including one where "certain countries' state debt cannot be fully repaid", De Jager said, but he did not specifically mention Greece.

His comments come as Greece, which received a 110-billion-euro ($150-billion) European Union-IMF-European Central Bank rescue last year and is hoping for more aid, is feared to be on the edge of defaulting on government borrowings, putting at risk the eurozone.

France and Germany said Wednesday they were convinced that Greece's future lay in the eurozone, as Athens vowed to stick to the harsh austerity measures required to get the EU bailout.

Athens has been warned that failure to overhaul its economy could cost vital funds out of the bailout that rescued it from bankruptcy last year.

A new 159-billion-euro lifeline from the EU currently hangs in the balance as well, with a number of eurozone members expressing frustration with the Greek government's delay in enacting and implementing agreed reforms.

© 2011 AFP

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