Greece cannot ask its people to accept a further austerity squeeze, prime minister Antonis Samaras said on Friday, while warning that his debt-wracked country would run out of funds next month.
In a wide-ranging interview in German daily Handelsblatt, Samaras also reiterated that Greece needed more time to implement deep cuts demanded by international creditors rather than a fresh injection of cash.
Asked how long Greece could survive without the next slice of aid, Samaras said: "Until the end of November. Then the coffers are empty."
"I cannot and I will not deny it: Greek democracy is facing perhaps its biggest ever challenge," stated the prime minister.
In return, Greece has signed up to a vast programme of austerity and cuts to satisfy the demands of the so-called "troika" of creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Officials from the so-called "troika" - are currently in Greece assessing the country's progress in fulfilling the terms for receiving the aid.
"The cuts we have already made have cut to the bone. We are at the limits of what we can ask of our people," he said.
"People are at the point where they are saying 'we are prepared to make sacrifices but we want to see light at the end of the tunnel.' Otherwise everything is in vain," added Samaras.
"It's about the cohesion of our society, which is being threatened by rising unemployment, like at the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany," he continued, referring to the collapse of the government that ushered in Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
"What we need is more time for budgetary consolidation -- but not necessarily more aid," he pledged, amid concerns in Germany that Europe will eventually have to stump up more to keep Greece afloat.
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|William A. Cook|
|Timothy V. Gatto|