Big fat Greek bailout ‘unlikely’: Borg

Sweden’s finance minister Anders Borg warned Greece on Wednesday that European countries were unlikely to help the Mediterranean nation solve its current budget crisis.

Borg also urged Athens to “apply serious budget policies.”

In an interview with the German daily Handelsblatt, Borg was asked if European Union members might provide Greece with bilateral aid, and said: “Such an approach would have to be discussed very attentively within the eurozone.”

Greece is a member of the 16-nation eurozone, but Sweden, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, is not.

“There is no legal basis” for such aid, Borg added.

“The European treaty even explicitly forbids EU member states from transferring their debts to others, and we should stick to that.”

Greek public finances are in terrible shape and the country’s sovereign debt was downgraded on Tuesday by the international ratings agency Fitch and placed on negative watch by Standard & Poor’s.

Borg pressed Athens to present “a multi-year consolidation plan and make drastic short term savings.”

“The government there must begin to finally apply serious budget policies,” he stressed.

A sudden and sharp revision of the country’s public deficit is something “that simply should not happen in a well-organized country,” the finance minister noted.

Greece’s partners are very worried about the situation, Borg said, adding that it was not only the result of the global economic crisis.

“Greek public debt was already out of control before the crisis erupted,” he noted.

His remarks followed unusually strong comment from the head of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet on Monday, saying that the state of Greek public finances was very difficult and that “courageous” corrective action was needed.

Some analysts have interpreted such recent comment from officials in EU institutions as revealing reluctance to appear ready to help Greece as a matter of course, unless Greece shows it is going to take aggressive action to reduce its public deficit.

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Swede dies in earthquake in Greece and Turkey

A Swedish man was one of the people killed when a violent earthquake hit Greek island Kos, Sweden's foreign ministry has confirmed.

Swede dies in earthquake in Greece and Turkey
Rubble sitting outside the bar damaged by an earthquake in Kos, Greece. Photo: Michael Probst/AP

A second person killed was named as Turkish national Sinan Kurdoglu by Turkey's deputy prime minister, according to news agency the Associated Press. The men died when the roof of a bar collapsed in Kos, The Guardian reports.

The 6.7 magnitude earthquake shook the Greek island and Turkish tourist resort Bodrum in the early hours of Friday. Greek officials said around 200 people were injured, at least 120 on Kos and 70 in Turkey. Sweden's foreign ministry has confirmed that Swedes are among the injured.

The epicentre of the earthquake, which struck at around 1.30am local time, was 10 kilometres south of Bodrum and 16 kilometres north-east of Kos which was the worst hit, reports The Guardian.

A toppled column in Kos after the earthquake. Photo: Michael Probst/AP

“I'm still in shock,” Isak Bergh from Västerås told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, explaining that paintings and mirrors fell from the walls of the hotel he was in and the power was lost.

Another reader described the scene at Rhodes airport.

“I laid on the floor and started to shake around,” Brian Ramirez explained.