Greece is in the midst of talks with chief inspectors from the
European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary
Fund who are conducting a bailout performance review before the
remaining funding is released.
The review has been interrupted twice since September due to the
reluctance of Greece's fragile, austerity-weary coalition government
to adopt any more unpopular measures to satisfy its lenders.
Successive governments have imposed higher taxes, wage cuts and
redundancies in the public sector and cuts to pensions, leaving an
economy that has shrunk by a quarter after a six-year depression,
with more than one in four Greeks unemployed.
"Greece is going through fundamental changes with huge pain for its
people. But the pursued policy is already showing signs the
macroeconomic situation is improving," Bundesbank chief Jens
Weidmann told the paper in an interview.
Weidmann, also a European Central Bank Governing Council member,
said a primary budget surplus, excluding debt servicing costs, had
become visible and the country's current account deficit has shrunk
significantly as Greece tries to make sure the budget stays in the
black to pay down its debt.
"These first successes must be seen as an encouragement for the
government to persist with the same policy, given that all of the
agreed adjustment measures have not yet been applied," he was quoted
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Weidmann told the paper foreign demand would be the main source of
growth for Greece's economy, citing Germany's example.
He said Germany's high current account surplus compared with its
euro zone partners had come down by almost half between 2009 to 2012
and that its strong exports were helping the bloc.
"Given the value chains of German industry, the rest of Europe also
benefits from its strong exports activity to the U.S. and China," he
told the paper.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos;
editing by Alison Williams)
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