Sunday, 11 September 2011

Greece on Verge of Default as Doubt Grows over €8bn Bailout

THE GUARDIAN: Greek prime minister George Papandreou under fire amid rumours that creditors are about to pull the plug

Greece’s embattled prime minister, George Papandreou, has moved to counter growing fears that Athens is about to default on its debts, saying there was a clear route back to economic health.

Speaking amid high security as protesters converged on the northern city of Thessaloniki for its annual international trade fair on Saturday, the socialist leader said: "There are two paths. One is the path of major change that will lead to a productive and creative Greece.

"The other path, the supposedly easier one, does not look problems straight in the eye and leads to disaster. We insist on the path of change."

Despite strong denials that the country is heading for a default, rumours have grown that the end game is approaching. Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, has insisted that a sixth, €8bn (£6.8bn) instalment of aid will not be released unless Greece enacts corrective measures to kickstart its economy and improve competitiveness. Experts from Washington and Brussels will fly into Athens this week to assess whether Greece is sticking to its programme of drastic spending cuts and tax rises, amid fears that its creditors could be ready to pull the plug. Continue reading and comment » | Helena Smith and Heather Stewart | Saturday, September 10, 2011