Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou
Source: Press TV
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has ruled out the possibility of an early election amid growing pressure on the government over its handling of the debt and financial crisis.
"We are a democratically elected government and we will certainly honor to the fullest the mandate given to us by the Greek citizens. The citizens want changes, not elections," George Papandreou said in an interview, AFP reported.
Papandreou also ruled out any scenarios of dropping the euro as the country's currency and turning back to the drachma.
"Not only is there not an issue of the country exiting the euro, on the contrary, through this adventure [which] we entered first because of the previous government, the euro will [also] strengthen," he added.
However, Greek opposition group New Democracy was critical of the comments, calling it “childish”.
"Such childish fireworks cannot hide the nakedness of the government whose own deputies ... call for elections. Precisely because they, as well, see the deadlock to which the country was led by Mr. Papandreou,” New Democracy spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis said.
Meanwhile, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began auditing Greece's finances last week to determine if it should receive the sixth tranche of funds under its EU bailout package.
Since last year, the EU and the IMF have granted Greece two rescue packages worth over EUR 269 billion (over USD 380 billion) in return for tough austerity measures.
The measures, which included the cutting of public sector salaries and pensions, increasing taxes and overhauling the pension system, sparked nationwide protests in Greece.
Europe has been vexed by a financial crisis as the 17-nation eurozone has been plunging into the abyss brought on by fissures between strong economies such as Germany, and weaker ones such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which risk being engulfed by unprecedented levels of government debt.