Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras likened his country's deep economic slump in the wake of the European debt crisis to the Great Depression of the 1930s in the U.S. while meeting with former U.S. President Bill Clinton in Athens.
You had the Great Depression in the United States, Samaras told Clinton, who was visiting as part of a delegation Greek-American businessmen. This is exactly what we're going through in Greece -- it's our version of the Great Depression.
Samaras' comments come days before a team of Eurozone debt inspectors arrives in Athens to pressure Greece to agree to massive government spending cuts as part of a €130 billion ($157 billion) bailout package.
The European Union and International Monetary Fund want Athens to reduce its budget deficit to below three percent of its GDP by 2014 from 9.3 percent in 2011.
Samaras has said his country needs at least two more years to reach the budget target in order to avoid further deepening its recession as a result of the spending cuts.
Clinton showed support for Samaras' viewpoint, criticizing lenders for focusing on austerity measures over economic recovery in Greece.
(It) is self-defeating ... if every day people are saying this may or may not work to give us back a 100 cents on the dollar, so give us more austerity today, Clinton told Samaras.
People need something to look forward to when they get up in the morning -- young Greeks need something to believe in so they can stake their future out here.