Greece threatens to go to IMF if EU fails to deliver aid plan

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Thursday called for a clear European Union (EU) aid plan for his debt-laden country or he would turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Greece might not need money from the EU, but a clear aid plan would thwart speculation, Papandreou told the European Parliament here.

"When you have that instrument in place, that could be enough to tell the markets: hands off, no speculation," Papandreou said at a press conference at the parliament.

The prime minister said Greece had put forward additional austerity measures in early March and its tough austerity program "cannot sustain" if the market did not act positively and the country had to borrow money at higher rates to refinance its debt.

He warned that, if the EU could not agree on an aid plan, Greece might have to turn to the IMF for help.

"We have talked to the IMF, they would have asked us for nothing more," he said.

Earlier on Monday, Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said after the monthly meeting of Eurozone finance ministers that the ministers "clarified modalities enabling a decision on coordinated action and which could be activated swiftly in the case of need".

But Juncker said the final decision on how to help Greece was "up to the European Council" but that might not happen until the Council's next meeting on March 25-26.

"I think it's an opportunity to make a decision next week at the summit," Papandreou told press conference at the parliament.

Papandreou also said he agreed with IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn that a European Monetary Fund (EMF) proposed by the EU might not be an immediate solution to Greek's debt crisis.

Strauss-Kahn said Wednesday at the European Parliament that talk of an EMF for future crisis prevention was a "distraction" from urgent problems in Greece.

[Source: Xinhua, Brussels, 18Mar10]

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