Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Greece is not Argentina and pledged his country will avoid Argentina’s fate of staying mired in economic troubles more than a decade after defaulting on debt.
Greece is seeking to emerge from a six-year recession after triggering the Euro-area debt crisis, receiving 240 billion Euros in international aid and undergoing the biggest-ever write-down of privately held debt.
The Greek government has slashed a budget deficit that was more than five times the European Union’s limit of 3% of GDP in 2009. In addition, the government returned to bond markets in April after a four-year exile and predicts economic growth in 2014 for the first time since 2007.
“Things are now improving,” Samaras told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. “In a few years, I believe this is going to be a bad memory. If you want the opposite example of Argentina, a very rich country that went bankrupt back in 2002, 12 years later, today, they are still in a crisis, on the verge of a collapse again, much more suffering and no hope -- this is what we did not want to happen in Greece.”
Argentina, whose economy is contracting and foreign currency reserves are near an eight-year low, is seeking to regain access to credit markets for the first time since a 2001 default on 95 billion of debt.
Samaras is promising less austerity and more prosperity to Greeks squeezed by higher taxes, near-27% unemployment and a 33% slump in worker incomes since 2009. Clinging to a four-seat majority in a domestic parliament where the main opposition party opposes the budget-tightening conditions for aid, he’s trying to avoid having to call elections before his four-year term ends in 2016.