German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country is footing much of the bailout loans keeping Greece afloat, said Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is doing a great job with reform efforts – the austerity measures she has insisted on in return for the money – as he tries to control still runway debt and a big deficit.
Her remarks came a day before Samaras was due to meet her in Berlin on Nov. 15 to talk again about the 3 1/2-year running Greek drama and crushing economic crisis.
Samaras, who opposed austerity while out of office, embraced it once he was elected and has continued to do as Merel has directed, leading critics to say he has ceded his country’s sovereignty to her and foreign banks.
“Greece has implemented changes over the past years which are absolutely remarkable,” Merkel was quoted as saying during a business conference in Berlin. “Who would have thought that Greece will post a primary budget surplus this year?” she added.
She didn’t mention that if Greece hits a primary surplus – not counting interest on debt, the cost of running cities and towns and state enterprises, some military expenditures and social security costs – that it could allow the government to try to stiff the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) with big losses as a previous administration did in 2011.
Merkel, however, has ruled out any idea of a debt cut, a so-called “haircut,” and told The Wall Street Journal that Germany, the biggest contributor to Greece’s bailout, will keep putting up money only as long as Samaras adheres to unrelenting austerity and to countries who cut their debt the way the Germans have advised.
Many Greeks blame Merkel for the unrelenting Draconian conditions being imposed on them and she drew large crowds of protesters when she came to Athens last year. Samaras gone to Berlin several times to talk with her about his efforts to turn around the economic crisis. The meeting comes a day after the Greek government said a recovery would begin next year.