Evangelos Venizelos, who is also foreign minister in a coalition government, is determined not to impose losses on Greece's European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund, which have pulled the troubled country from the brink of bankruptcy with about €240 billion ($325 billion) so far.
"We understand very, very well how difficult it is for every government to accept debt relief. ... Our demand is not debt relief. It is additional reprofiling without problem, without additional burden for our institutional partners", Venizelos said in an interview with top editors at Reuters in New York.
"We are talking about the potential for a lost generation here", Venizelos said, adding that the prospect of a social explosion if Greek citizens are forced to endure more fiscal austerity was the biggest risk for the country. "It is not possible to implement new fiscal measures. It is not possible to impose new cuts on wages and pensions", he said.
Despite punishing fiscal measures and cash injections, Greece is expected to need an additional €10 billion to €12 billion in the next two years. The eurozone is likely to decide on a third bailout for Greece in November after international inspectors finish an assessment of its reforms.
Venizelos, a constitutional law professor and former finance minister who negotiated the debt writedown, said Greece was not looking for any more handouts but could cover its needs by returning to the bond market as early as next year and by renegotiating the interest and maturity of existing debt. "Our point is not to transform the adjustment programme as a more loose programme, but to implement through a clever manner the existing programme", he said.
Venizelos said Greece's €330 billion of public debt was modest when compared with the multi-trillions of euros held by Germany, Italy and France, but that precludes the size of the overall economy, which is now one of the smallest in the EU.
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