As Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras prepares for a meeting with Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday, he told German newspaper Bild Greece needs "breathing space" to implement further spending cuts and reforms.
As Greece's international creditors demand further cuts of €11.5 billion it is widely expected that Samaras will request a two-year extension to the bail-out memorandum when he meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
Athens News reported Samaras told Bild "All we want is a bit of 'air to breathe' to get the economy running and to increase state income. More time does not automatically mean more money. Let me be very explicit: we demand no additional money. We stand by our commitments and by fulfilling all our requirements. We have to crank up growth because that decreases the financial gaps."
In order to demonstrate the governments committment to adhering to Troika demands Ekathimerini reported Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has presented cuts of €13.5 billion to Samaras, anticipating "that once the pension and salary cuts are implemented along with the reductions to spending, tax revenues and social security contributions will fall by about 2 billion euros, leading to a new shortfall."
Yannis Varoufakis, professor of economics at the University of Athens, told the BBC Samaras is "profoundly, deeply and sadly wrong. Greece does not need more breathing space. It is not breathing at all." Varoufakis slammed the Troika plan of advancing loans in return for austerity as "very silly" as he pointed out the cycle leads to yet more loans and more demands for austerity.
Der Spiegel considers Samaras is unlikely to receive much sympathy for his request for breathing space from Berlin, where there are daily calls for Greece to leave the euro. However, Samaras told Bild the consequences of a Grexit "would be catastrophic for Greece... It would be a nightmare: economic collapse, social unrest and a never-before-seen democratic crisis."