Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told CNBC that his country is not looking for a financial bailout and that comments made by European Central Bank board member suggesting Greece may need one were “frankly not very helpful.”
ECB board member Jurgen Stark sent currency markets into a tailspin earlier Wednesday after telling Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 that markets are deluding themselves if they think that fellow euro zone members will put their hands in their wallets to save Greece.
“We did not ask for nor expect a bailout,” Papaconstantinou said in an interview. “We are doing what needs to be done.”
But plans by the Greek government to cut its budget deficit to under 3 percent by 2012 from 12.7 percent in 2009 have been met with scepticism by international markets and today face further scrutiny by EU officials as they arrive in Athens for a three-day fact finding mission.
However, Papaconstantinou continues to come under pressure to justify his government’s credibility and commitment in the face of ever growing disquiet that it may need international help.
“Actually a fact finding mission of this type is perfectly normal for a country that is submitting a stability and growth program and which is under surveillance such as Greece,” he said.
There has even been growing concern that Greece may turn to the IMF for support and indeed the IMF is expected to visit Greece within the coming weeks.
When asked, the Greek Finance Minister acknowledged that he was in constant discussions with the IMF, but reiterated that the discussions were in no way related to any financial help.
“We have asked help from the IMF not on debt or macroeconomic issues but more for their technical expertise on tax reform and budget reform that is on its way,” Papaconstantinou said.