6 Mar 2010

Greece not seeking aid - Merkel

8:57 am on 6 March 2010

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany says Greece has not asked for financial support.

After talks in Berlin with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, she said the stability of the eurozone is 'assured'.

Mrs Merkel called for an end to market speculation that Greece would default and said that Germany would offer support and expertise.

Mr Papandreou is facing increased pressure at home as Greece's two main unions have called a new general strike on 11 March.

Unions describe austerity measures passed by parliament on Wednesday as anti-popular and barbaric. Public sector employees are already on strike.

The BBC reports Greece has misreported budget figures for years to hide a mountain of debt - currently about 300 billion euros.

A recent poll showed 71% of Germans think the EU should not help Greece at all.

Mr Papandreou will also meet President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in Paris on Sunday.

On Thursday, the Greek government went to the financial markets to borrow money: a bond issue worth 5 billion euros ($US6.8 billion) was oversubscribed.

More funding needed

However, the BBC reports Greece will need to borrow more in the coming months - more than $US70 billion for the year as a whole.

Greece needs to raise 20 billion euros in order to repay debt maturing in April and May.

Greece has already pledged to reduce its deficit from 12.7% - more than four times eurozone rules - to 8.7% during 2010, by freezing public sector pay, raising taxes and changing the pension system.