Finance Minister: Greece Must Deliver on Austerity Plan

Greeks need to unite behind an austerity plan and deliver results to secure a stronger bargaining position on the world financial stage, the finance minister said on Tuesday after attending a euro zone meeting.

"We must implement the program in a climate of national unity and social cohesion because this is a prerequisite for a stronger bargaining position," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said, underlining his calls for consensus in a statement issued by the ministry after the talks in Brussels.

Euro zone finance ministers acknowledged for the first time at the meeting that some form of default may be needed to cut Greece's debts. The lack of concrete action and a lukewarm response to the outcome from the IMF piled market pressure on Italy and Spain.

Athens wants a second bailout package to take it through to mid-2014 as it faces a funding gap next year under its current EU/IMF rescue scheme. It is highly unlikely to be able to return to bond markets in 2012.

"The invitation to the political opposition to negotiate together the new program and its details is still valid. Any consensus in Greece, even the smallest, strengthens our position abroad," he said.

The conservative opposition which voted against the bailout deal last year has been deeply critical of the economic adjustment plan Athens agreed with the EU and the IMF, saying the policy mix is wrong, taxing the economy into a tail spin.

"The eurogroup sent a clear message, that it is ready to take all needed measures to ensure financial stability in the euro zone and this includes Greece. Of course, we must do our own work," Venizelos said.