Greek minister foresees hellish debt negotiations

Greece should prepare itself for a hellish negotiating period with international creditors on the country’s financial needs and its level of debt, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said on Sunday.

“Up to June it will be hell. Our lenders will review and judge everything,” Stournaras said to the newspaper To Vima.

The minister also told the daily Kathimerini that Greece would refuse a new bailout package if it came with additional austerity measures.

His statements come at a time of increasing anxiety in Greece as the so called troika of creditors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund consider further loan releases to the cash-strapped country.

Greece is experiencing a sixth year of continuous recession and an unemployment rate of more than 27 percent. A second general strike in less than four months is planned for November 6 to protest harsh government austerity policy.

Greece was first bailed out for 110 billion euros in 2010 but when that failed, got a second rescue in 2012 worth 130 billion euros plus a private sector debt write-off totalling more than 100 billion euros.

The second bailout is set to end in mid-2014, when the plan is for Greece to return to the markets for its long-term funding, an eventuality that for now seems unlikely.

The creditors are worried the country can not afford to meet its 4.4 billion euros ($5.4 billion) loan repayments. The impending financial hole could rise to 10.9 billion euros by 2015.

With state revenue still far short of planned spending, the Greek government is looking for ways to afford day-to-day spending in 2014 without forcing yet more austerity on Greeks.

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