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Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

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Europe

Europe 'expects' Greece to respect bailout terms

Latest update : 2012-05-07

The European Commission has said that it "hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect" its austerity engagements, one day after elections widely seen as a protest at the EU-IMF bailout terms broke the ruling coalition.

AFP - The European Commission said on Monday it expects the next Greek government to respect the terms of a financial rescue after the rise of anti-bailout parties at weekend elections.

"The Commission hopes and expects that the future government of Greece will respect the engagements that Greece has entered into," commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen told a news briefing.

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras, whose party came on top of Sunday's elections, said he would seek to "amend" the country's controversial EU-IMF loan agreement in order to boost growth.

But the conservatives and Greece's other mainstream party, the Socialists, fell short of an absolute majority in the 300-seat parliament, making it unclear how a new government will be formed.

"It is up to Greek political forces to work in a spirit of responsibility to form a government with a stable majority," said Ahrenkilde Hansen.

She added that the commission stands ready to continue helping Greece implement the unpopular reforms attached to the bailout package, seen as contributing to electoral gains made by neo-Nazi and far-left parties.

"We think that Greece must remain a member of the euro but everybody has to carry its responsibilities," said the European Commission's economic affairs spokesman, Amadeu Altafaj.

Warning that "solidarity is a two-way street," Altafaj called for the "full and timely" implementation of the bailout programme in order to ensure that the massive Greek debt becomes sustainable.

Greece has secured two bailouts of 240 billion euros ($312.2 billion) in return for promises of deep austerity cuts that have already seen pensions and salaries slashed by up to 40 percent.

Athens has already committed to finding in June another 11.5 billion euros ($15 billion) in savings in the next two years. The country is in its fifth year of recession and unemployment is at 40 percent.

Date created : 2012-05-07

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