MOSCOW, November 21 (RIA Novosti) – Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras called on the troika of international lenders on Wednesday to fulfil their commitments and unlock a much-needed 31.5 billion euro loan for the country, claiming Greece has met its creditors’ austerity demands.
“Greece did what it had committed it would do. Our partners, together with the IMF, also have to do what they have undertaken to do,” Samaras said in a statement following the Eurogroup’s decision to delay the loan. ”Any technical difficulties in finding a technical solution do not justify any negligence or delays,” he added.
After 12 hours of talks in Brussels, Eurozone finance ministers withheld approval on Tuesday night for the scheduled 31.5 billion euro tranche of bailout funds for Greece, which is teetering on the brink of a sovereign default.
Following the finance ministers’ meeting, Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Junker said that the Eurogroup will meet again on November 26 to complete “further technical work on some elements of this package.”
On November 8 the Greek parliament passed a highly unpopular austerity bill setting out 13.5 billion euros in spending cuts as well as tax hikes and labor reforms by 2016 as demanded by the troika (the European Union, the IMF and the European Central Bank) to reduce the country’s debt and deficit.
Greece has been receiving bailout loans since May 2010, and to date has received nearly 149 billion euros ($191 billion) of funds from Europe and the IMF, out of a total promised bailout of 240 billion euros.
The country has had to resort to expensive short-term borrowing, while the European Union and the IMF consider whether to release the latest 31.5 billion euro tranche of bailout funds.
Greece has had to implement severe deficit reduction measures in order to comply with international lenders’ requirements tied to the loans, such as mass redundancies in the public sector, social welfare cuts and privatization. This sparked a wave of social discontent, triggering mass riots and general strikes.
International investors fear Greece’s sovereign default and potential exit from the eurozone might trigger a chain reaction across Europe, affecting European banks and forcing other countries such as Portugal or Spain out of the currency union.