Bloomberg News

Greece’s Stournaras Says ERT Controversy ‘Turbulence’ to Pass

June 20, 2013

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said he sought to assure the euro area that controversy in Greece over the closure of public broadcaster ERT didn’t signal a return to political instability.

Stournaras said fellow finance ministers from the 17-nation euro area expressed concerns at a meeting today in Luxembourg about the outcry in Greece over the government’s decision to suspend 2,600 jobs at ERT and create a new, smaller company. The finance ministry in Athens switched off the signal for the three public television channels shortly before midnight on June 11.

The step drew criticism from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s two coalition partners, stoking tensions in a year-old government that is seeking to pursue budget cuts to remain eligible for emergency international aid.

“It’s not a political crisis, it’s turbulence,” Stournaras told reporters in Luxembourg after the meeting of euro-area finance chiefs. “It’ll pass.”

The jolt to the Samaras-led government has revived fears of political paralysis that led to two elections last year and a half-year freeze on international loans to the country. Aid disbursements were reauthorized late last year and since then Greece has received a series of payouts in routine fashion.

Stournaras said the government must push ahead with plans to shrink the public-sector workforce in order to win an 8.1 billion-euro ($10.7 billion) payout for July. He said the sum could carry Greece until early 2014.

As part of the conditions for the aid, Greece has to reduce the number of workers on the state payroll by 15,000 by the end of 2014.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Stearns in Luxembourg at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Stearns at jstearns2@bloomberg.net


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