Greek riots deepen public debt strain

The unrest that has gripped Greece for nearly two weeks over the fatal shooting of a youth by police has also complicated efforts to service the country’s debt, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on Tuesday.

“The problem with the Greek public debt is related to the cost of borrowing ... but it is exacerbated by the latest events which hurt our country’s image and which do not do Greece justice,” he said.

Greece will pay about $16-billion in 2009 to service its debt, meaning over 19% of its revenue and nearly 5% of its gross domestic product, the prime minister said.

“It’s a huge burden,” Karamanlis told his ruling party’s parliamentary group.

“If a country lets show that its deficits are getting out of hand, the cost of borrowing rises seriously,” the prime minister said.

Greece’s public debt this year stands at 93,9% of GDP, one of the highest in Europe.

Karamanlis also said that he had no intention of resigning despite a chorus of calls from the opposition.

“I am here to respond to my duties,” he said. “It is my decision to stay on the road of responsibility and continue with reforms.”

Following on from the recent clashes, the headquarters of Greece’s riot police were targeted in a brief arson attack on Tuesday morning, police said.

A group of youths threw firebombs and stones at the Athens building’s outer perimeter, damaging a number of cars before fleeing, the source said.

Police targets have been regularly attacked in the wave of protests around the country.—Sapa-AFP

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