Fico: Forgiving Greek debt would require referendum

THE FORMATION of a new Greek cabinet cannot mean relinquishing the country’s commitments, Prime Minister Robert Fico said at the session of the parliamentary European Affairs Committee on February 11.         

Finance Minister Peter Kažimír (l) and Prime Minister Robert FicoFinance Minister Peter Kažimír (l) and Prime Minister Robert Fico (Source: SITA)

Fico pointed out that if Greeks were not happy with the conditions of the aid package, they should have rejected it when the aid was discussed – in 2010. Slovakia is on the hook for approximately 1 percent of the loan for Athens and if this debt is forgiven, the money will have to be paid by people in Slovakia.

“If they [Brussels] pressured us into this, a referendum would need to be held and people speak their mind,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “If they ignored the referendum and declared that they don’t care, then the government would okay forgiving the Greeks the money. However, I don’t see any reason whatsoever why Slovakia - with our (low) salaries and pensions - should give money to someone directly.”

Fico added that the aid to Greece was approved under certain conditions. He conceded that a different mechanism could be sought, such as extension of the payment period, yet he rejected to transfer the problem of one country to another country.

Greece intends to submit to eurozone finance ministers the proposal to alleviate some conditions of the aid programme. The new leftist Greek government that has come to power in the January 25 election refuses to continue the austerity measures and wants a so-called “haircut” of the amount outstanding from the bail-out package of €240 billion that was provided by the eurozone and International Monetary Fund.

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