Slovakia first euro-zone nation to reject Greek aid package
The Slovaks have apparently balked at the Greek aid package hammered out in crisis this past weekend. While they have not formally rejected the package, the Slovak Prime Minister has said he cannot grant Greece a loan before it fulfils its commitments. The Austrians have also chimed in with words of doubt. Clearly, the Greek aid package is not a done deal yet.
Below is my translation of the story via Diário de Notícias, a Portuguese daily:
Slovakia produced the first crack in European cohesion on financial aid to Greece in expressing reservations about its contribution to the joint effort, two days after the announcement of the agreement by the eurozone countries.
The Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said Monday that his country cannot "grant any loan to Greece" before the country "fulfils its obligations" to reduce costs.
"Any decision related to helping (Greece) should be preceded by an effective decision of the Greek Parliament to reduce the social benefits that the country is unable to finance," Fico said. "Personally, I think that Parliament will be unable to approve the austerity plan," he added.
Fico also suggested that the Slovak loan of 800 million euros – of a total of 110 billion to be allocated over three years to the Hellenic State by the eurozone countries and the IMF – cannot be approved until the next government, after the general elections of June 12.
Meanwhile, the Austrian Finance Minister, Joseph Pröll, today warned that Europe is "losing patience" with Greece. "When we watch the protests, our patience, mine and the rest of Europe’s, is almost at its limit," he said.
Pröll urged the Greek government to "clearly explain" to the population that the austerity measures are "absolutely necessary" to overcome the serious crisis in the country.
In its initial reaction, the European Commission said today that "national procedures have different calendars, but we dismiss any possibility of setting aside the decision to activate the mechanism" to help Athens.