The finance ministers of the euro currency zone have been conferring on strategy for Greece ahead of this Tuesday’s full EU Council talks.
Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker conveyed the urgency of Athens’ task: “We will check in March if Greece is on track, and if Greece is not on track, additional measures will be requested.”
Athens is facing unprecedented surveillance by the other 15 eurozone members. The Greek deficit is more than four times the EU maximum of three percent set out in the Stability and Growth Pact. The government is committed to taming its finances by 2012.
Prime Minister George Papandreou last Thursday received EU moral support backing his ambitious plan but his fellow leaders stopped short of offering any bailout package.
Meanwhile, ordinary Greeks have been celebrating the beginning of lent — the forty-day Christian tradition of penitence and self-denial leading up to Easter.
One man said:“We will celebrate everything. No matter what problems the Greeks have, they will always celebrate: Easter, this, anything.”
Papandreou has underscored that “Greece has not appealed for financial aid”, and said it “can solve its problems itself”.