Eurozone leaders are praising the efforts of debt-ridden Greece to resolve its financial woes and resume its cost-cutting austerity.
Some of the 16 other countries in the euro currency bloc have often attacked Athens for its slow pace in adopting financial reforms, even as the Greek populace has grown increasingly angry at the demands of the country’s lenders. But Friday, eurozone leaders gathered at the European Union summit in Brussels said they welcomed the determination of the Greek government and commended the “remarkable efforts by the Greek people.”
The eurozone leaders also agreed in the coming months to appoint a new supervisor of banks throughout the currency union. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said support for the banking overseer and the statement on Greece are significant.
“We have made advances on the banking union because we have agreed to have regulation by the end of the year and to implement it in 2013,” he said. “There have also been advances on fiscal union. Furthermore, there’s been something really important, which is that there has been strong support given to Greece, and I hope that whenever we have the troika’s report on Greece, all doubts and uncertainty will be over.”
Despite the support for Greece, its leaders have been stymied in reaching an agreement with the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund over a new $17 billion austerity plan. The three outside lenders have demanded more Greek spending cuts before releasing a new segment of Greece’s second bailout that Athens says it needs to avoid running out of money next month.
Tens of thousands of Greek workers have struck twice this month in protest of the creditors’ demands, with some of the protests turning into clashes with riot police. One pensioner, Antonis Dremetsikas, said the austerity and the rescue packages have not improved life for the country.
“The road Greece has taken is not towards progress,” said Dremetsikas. “It’s downhill. It’s a shame to be going from installment to installment. They’ve brought us to the point of shame simply by saying, ‘come get your installment.’ And under this pressure they force you to take measures. These are not measures of development. They’re measures of misery.”