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Ireland, Portugal hit out at Greece for breaking promises

Both Michael Noonan and Vitor Gaspar were tough on their Greek counterpart last week over Athens’s failure to follow its bailout programme.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

IT IS NOT fair that other crisis countries should “go to great lengths” to meet the requirements of their bailout packages, while Athens consistently breaks its promises.

That was the strong message given to Greece last week by Michael Noonan and his Portuguese counterpart, Vitor Gaspar, at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

According to Der Spiegel, the finance ministers were “hard” on Filippos Sachinidis, Greece’s interim minister, as Athens is seen as continually fuelling concerns about the entire eurozone by failing to carry out promised reforms. It was blamed for sparking contagion “again and again”.

The German news source also claimed that eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker threatened a “secret vote” on Greece’s membership of the eurozone. He said if such a ballot was taken, the majority would be against Athens.

Meanwhile, Noonan has defended his ‘feta cheese’ comment made about Greece during a Bloomberg interview last week. He said it was a conscious remark to distance Ireland’s economic situation from that of Athens’s.

If you go into the shops here, apart from feta cheese, how many Greek items do you put in your basket?

He said he asked the question as he was aware that “many people listening who wouldn’t understand the Irish position”.

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“I just wanted to make it important to an international audience that Ireland does not have strong links with Greece” in terms of the economy, trade or banks, he said.

“I’m trying to stop contagion,” he added. “It’s my job as finance minister to try to protect the economy.”

“I’m trying to stop contagion” – Noonan on ‘feta cheese’ remark>

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