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Europe
Greece urged to sell islands
Two German politicians say debt-ridden nation should sell its assets to raise cash.
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2010 20:22 GMT
Greece has said the suggestions, including the sale of the Acropolis, were 'not appropriate' [EPA]

Greece should consider selling some of its uninhabited islands to raise cash for the debt-ridden nation, two German politicians have suggested.

Josef Schlarmann, a senior member of the Christian Democratic Union, and Frank Schaeffler, a finance policy expert of the Free Democratic Party, made the comments in an interview with Bild newspaper on Thursday.

"Those in insolvency have to sell everything they have to pay their creditors," Schlarmann said.

"Greece owns buildings, companies and uninhabited islands, which could all be used for debt redemption."

'Not appropriate'

But Dimitris Droutsas, the Greek deputy foreign minister, dismissed the idea saying: "I've also heard the suggestion we should sell the Acropolis. Suggestions like this are not appropriate at this time."

Greece's deficit was 12.7 per cent of GDP in 2009, well ahead of the EU's 3 per cent of GDP limit.

The nation has launched an austerity programme, including tax hikes, raising the retirement age and a freeze on public wages, designed to secure European help to tackle its crippling debt burden.

But opinion polls show Germans are overwhelmingly against taxpayers bailing out Greece.

"The chancellor cannot promise Greece any help," Schaeffler told the newspaper in a story with the headline: "Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks! And sell the Acropolis too!"

Asked why he made those controversial comments, Schaeffler told Al Jazeera: "I think Greece has to save money - and if you need to save money then you must sell your jewellery so to speak.

"That's what Greece should do. They must privatise to raise money, that's what I said to Bild newspaper."

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, will meet George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, in Berlin on Friday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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