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Finance Minister Wants Better Debt Conditions For Greece

In an interview to French daily "Liberation," Yannis Stournaras has expressed the hope that after four years of austerity, European partners will help Greece lower its debt so that it can be sustainable over the long term.

"So far we have been given no gifts. Greece has benefited from loans extended by Eurozone members, loans that produce interest and which we pay off. What we are asking is, simply, better terms that could take the form of a decrease in interest rates and a significant extension of the repayment time. Greece will have to achieve huge budget surpluses to make the debt manageable, meaning further sacrifices will have to be imposed on the Greek people."

On negotiations with Troika, Mr. Stournaras noted that "it takes two to tango," adding that ideally "our creditors would write off half our debt," something, which will niot happen, since it's unrealistic.

The minister also foresees that the primary surplus will rise to 340 million euros starting by the end of the year.

Replying to whether he would be ready to accept some sort of trade off so that with every reform there would be a decrease in the debt, Mr Stournaras said "that would be the best solution, but in actuality it would entail re-initiating a sensitive discussion on a new haircut, after that of 2012 that took place for the private sector. Such a discussion can only take place if there's consent in the Eurozone."

Meanwhile, a little after his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras noted the difference in his role from that of Parliament members, insisting that when criticism against him is constructive he takes it into account.

"I listen to criticism when it's constructive and take it into account, but, you know the role of finance minister is not to be pleasant. It is to be effective," he said, warning about the next steps after the budget adding "we have a very difficult duty ahead of us."

Mr. Stournaras also stated that there is a climate of understanding with the Troika. When asked if the issue of defense firm EAS will be finalized so that a 1 billion euro aid tranche is released, the minister retorted: "I don't know this. I don't think so, as the Eurogroup has not announced a disbursement, but what we hope is that all prerequisites will have been wrapped up by then."