Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has asked European governments and the International Monetary Fund for billions in emergency loans to pull the euro zone member out of its debt crisis.
In a live televised address from the remote Aegean island of Kastellorizo, Papandreou call it “a national and imperative need.”
Greece is currently negotiating with European Union and IMF officials over the terms of the 45 billion euro package which would be the largest state bailout ever attempted.
The cost of borrowing the money needed to keep Greece solvent has skyrocketed.
Papandreou said the financial markets have not given them the time needed to turn the economy around and the soaring lending rates are threatening to wipe out the effect of painful austerity measures.
European financial markets initially rallied, but investors quickly concluded the bailout would only provide a short-term solution and after bouncing the euro slipped.
On the streets of Athens some Greeks disagreed with their government’s decision to activate the EU/IMF aid mechanism
Businessman Pericles Kavoursa said: “We have given everything and it still has come to naught. I am afraid of what will happen.”
But civil servant Makis Lefkaditis had a wry observation. He said: “I am comfortable with it, Greece will never die. We may just bankrupt the International Monetary Fund too, Greece seems to be good at that.”