No talks with Greece on debt restructuring

The European Commission is not in talks with Greece on the restructuring of its debt, an EC spokeswoman said on Monday.

The Greek Elefterotypia newspaper reported on Monday that the country’s Finance Ministry had asked the International Monetary Fund and the European Union to begin talks on restructuring the 110-billion-euro aid package allocated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to help the country tackle its soaring debt crisis.

According to the report, which was denied by Greek officials later on Monday, the request was made by Greek Finance Minister Georgios Papandreou during an informal meeting with European finance ministers in Hungary earlier this month.

The European Union endorsed the multibillion bailout package for Greece last year in exchange for a harsh three-year austerity plan intended to decrease Greece’s budget deficit, which stood at 15.4 percent of GDP in 2009.

Former Greek Socialist Prime Minister Costas Simitis has called for the restructuring of Greece’s debt amid growing speculation about European countries, including the aid package’s biggest contributor Germany, working on such a plan.

In an interview with Greece’s To Vima (Tribune) newspaper, Simitis suggested that a “well-prepared restructuring will essentially improve our situation,” adding “as long as it is being delayed, the debt which cannot be restructured gets bigger.”

The Wall Street Journal quoted on Sunday unidentified officials as saying that several European ministers had requested the European Central Bank to begin negotiations with Greece on debt restructuring. The bank responded by saying it didn’t want a public discussion, the report said.

The newspaper also quoted senior IMF officials as telling the European Commission that a restructuring should be considered as early as next year. IMF hasn’t recommended a restructuring of all Greece’s debt, but has considered extending its loan repayment schedule, IMF spokesman William Murray told the paper.

The Greek statistics service has estimated the 2010 deficit to stand at around 10.6% of GDP, up from a revised goal of 9.4% foreseen in the country’s 2011 budget.

ATHENS, April 18 (RIA Novosti)

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