Reporting from Athens — Greece's recently elected government is struggling to rein in a ballooning budget deficit that is putting the stability of the euro in doubt. Louka T. Katseli, minister for the economy, competitiveness and shipping, spoke to The Times about Athens' ambitious austerity plan to cut the deficit to the level demanded by the rules governing the 16-country "eurozone."
Is Greece the weak link in the eurozone?
This is both an unfair characterization and a very shortsighted characterization. . . . We are a part of the eurozone, and . . . you need to fulfill your obligations.
There is no doubt that Greece has had a credibility problem, a credibility problem that has deteriorated over the last three or four years due to, I would say, a wrong policy mix and also a weak governance system. However, that's why in democracies people vote for a new team to come in to address problems.
Can your government implement its austerity plan?
It's not an austerity plan. It's a stability and growth plan. It's a plan that actually has an elaborate, two-pronged strategy: one, to consolidate the budget and reduce it in a period of two years, and second, to promote both regulatory reform and [an] investment-led program to sustain growth. . . .