Belfast Telegraph

Long road to recovery for Greece is a marathon

By David Elliot

Relations between Athens and the EU are getting a little feisty. Greece's finance minister Evangelos Venizelos isn't holding back in his criticism of the people he's hoping will lend him a euro or two.

He said the EU is continually changing the terms of a potential £110bn bailout which would help the beleaguered country meet its bond repayments in March.

In footballing parlance, he reckons the goalposts keep being moved because one of the referees want his team to be relegated from the league.

He's not pointing fingers but it will probably be a long time before Mr Venizelos is heading off to Berlin for a city break.

You can see his point.

It seems as if the EU keep finding another detail to iron out and then add to the list of demands it's making of Greece in exchange for another tranche of bailout money.

And with time running out for Athens to get an agreement signed off, it's no wonder Mr Venizelos is irked.

He reckons the debt swap with the banks will be announced on Monday and that it will take three weeks to process, provided the EU make good on the bailout.

That doesn't leave much wriggle room before March 20, the dreaded deadline when a large chunk of Greek government bonds will be redeemed.

The next few days are crucial for Greece. If the current austerity plans are agreed by the EU, it's hoped that in eight years Greece will be in a similar position to that of Italy now, but without Italy's private wealth.

That's a very long road to recovery.

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