The Associated Press March 14, 2010, 11:38AM ET

Greece does not want money from EU partners

Greece is to present the first results of its austerity measures at a meeting of European Union finance ministers in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday, and the country insists it is looking for political rather than financial backing over its debt crisis, a finance ministry official said Sunday.

Greece has come under intense pressure from its EU partners to reduce its massive budget deficit that reached 12.7 percent of economic output in 2009, and has announced a euro4.8 billion ($6.5 billion) austerity package that includes cutting civil servants' income, freezing pensions and increasing consumer taxes.

Media reports over the weekend had indicated that decisions would be made by the finance ministers to extend financial aid to Greece.

But a finance ministry official repeated Athens' long-standing position that it was looking for political backing and not money, saying "all this talk (of a bailout) is just that, talk." The official, who could not be named according to ministry rules, said Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou did not expect any concrete decision from the meetings.

The finance ministers of the 16 nations using the euro as a common currency meet on Monday, followed by a Tuesday meeting of the finance ministers of the 27 EU countries.

Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble also denied any such decisions would be made at Monday's meeting.

"There are always rumors, especially before such meetings, but the situation has not changed," the German newspaper Bild quoted Schaeuble as saying. "There is, therefore, no reason to make any decisions about financial aid."

EU officials said Saturday the union has developed a set of options to help Greece overcome its financial crisis, but that Athens would have to arrange for possible loan guarantees with each individual government. Berlin has so far bristled at the idea of extending aid to Greece.


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