Greece unhappy at bailout demands

GREECE has demanded that the EU and IMF stop interfering in its domestic affairs after the bodies who delivered a financial bail-out called on Athens to speed up reforms, sell more assets and fight vested interests.

EU and IMF inspectors, monitoring the bailout plan that saved Greece from bankruptcy, gave the green light for more aid but adopted a more critical tone than on previous visits.

"The behaviour of EU, IMF and ECB officials was unacceptable. We asked nobody to interfere in domestic affairs," said government spokesman George Petalotis.

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"We have needs but also limits, and we are not negotiating with anybody the limits of our self-respect. We only take orders from the Greek people."

The statement was published after media criticised the government for not standing up to the visiting inspectors.

Pharmacists, bus drivers and doctors have been holding on-and-off strikes for weeks over proposed reforms of their professions, creating massive traffic jams in central Athens.

In another sign of tension over co-operation with the IMF and Greece's euro- zone partners, who allowed the country to avoid default but imposed unpopular public wage cuts and tax hikes, a minister criticised EU/IMF calls for more privatisations.

"Revenues of 50 billion by 2015 from privatisations of state assets are not possible", infrastructure minister Dimitris Reppas commented on state TV Net yesterday, a day after the EU, IMF and ECB officials ended their inspection to Athens.

However, a finance minister official said on Friday the country's new target for privatisation was indeed 50 billion.