A video has emerged in which the head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn says Greece was secretly negotiating IMF assistance in late 2009 – earlier than Athens has officially admitted.
Strauss-Kahn says in the video that Athens knew it was in trouble well before it went public: “We had been working with the Greeks for months, we did it ‘underground’. The Greeks wanted IMF intervention, but Prime Minister Papandreou, for political reasons, couldn’t say it. He phoned me in November-December 2009, telling me he needed our help.”
The video is from an interview with the IMF managing director that was recorded for a documentary by the French Canal+ TV network but that answer was not broadcast in the programme.
Greek government officials did not challenge Straus Kahn’s version but downplayed the issue.
Government spokesman, Georges Petalotis, said Strauss-Kahn’s version was made public “for reasons of his own”.
Greece’s Minister of Regional Development and Competitiveness, Michalis Chryssohoidis, said “Strauss-Kahn is not a virgin, he is an experienced politician… who wants to get rid of the Greek problem” as he is facing a nomination for the French presidential election.
The main Greek opposition New Democracy party said it was a “slap-in-the-face” for the prime minister’s credibility.
Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou is talking more and more about Athens having additional time to pay back the bailout money and at a lower interest rate.
Greece has already received one extension on the repayment of the bailout and a reduction in the interest rate.
The Greek government still faces much public anger over the EU-IMF rescue package with included lower pensions and civil service pay and higher taxes and retirement ages.
At the same time, Papaconstantinou lashed out at 800 former Greek lawmakers who have gone to court to try to get retroactive pension increases. He called that an “insult to the common perception of justice” and said it would not be considered.