Greece's Finance Minister Venizelos talks to France's Finance Minister Lagarde
Greece's Finance Minister Venizelos talks to France's Finance Minister Lagarde Reuters

Under extreme pressure to impose more austerity measures in order to qualify for additional bailout money, the Greek government said it should not be blamed for the eurozone debt crisis.

The country's finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, said that European and other international institutions are using Greece as a scapegoat for the debt crisis in order to hide their own lack of competence to manage the crisis.”

European equity markets are again plunging in Monday trading largely on fears of a Greek default.

In an official statement, Venizelos said that a “nervous situation has taken shape within the eurozone and the international economy at large, which creates multiple problems and allows the profiteering elements of the global market, those who speculate against the euro and other currencies, to constantly organize attacks on the heart of the euro. And this concerns us deeply as a country, it concerns all Greek citizens.”

He added that while his government takes full responsibility for the implementation of the austerity program, this responsibility “must be also taken by all European institutions, all member-states,” because they have “significance for the Euro Area.”

The finance minister specified that the government is nonetheless committed to meeting its fiscal targets for 2011 and 2012; to creating budget surpluses as soon as possible and to implement structural changes to make Greece more competitive in the future.

According to reports, Greece needs the next tranche of cash of 8-billion euros ($11-billion) from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to avoid a default as early as next month.

However, European officials will not agree to release the next flow of funds until they are convinced Athens will adhere to strict fiscal discipline.

Among other things, EU officials and the European Central Bank (ECB) reportedly have demanded that the Greek government fire 100,000 state employees (a 20,000 increase from its previous mandate).

Greece’s government met over the weekend to discuss the crisis and what steps may be necessary to both meet EU demands and avoid a devastating default.