ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will not demand changes to overall targets included in its bailout plan but hopes to renegotiate policies preventing it from hitting those goals, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Friday in his first policy speech since taking office.
Outlining his government's priorities before a confidence vote on Sunday, Samaras pledged to turn around the country's recession-hit economy, speed up privatizations and push through much-needed reforms to make the country investment-friendly.
"We don't want to change the targets," Samaras told parliament. "What needs to change is that which is hampering us from attaining the targets. We want to fight the recession."
Samaras, who was laid low by eye surgery days after being named prime minister, conceded that Greece had missed targets included in its bailout program but promised to do all to keep the country in the euro.
But in an apparent swipe at euro zone partners who have openly warned the country risks leaving the euro if it failed to keep its pledges, Samaras said it was difficult to move ahead with privatizations while foreign officials publicly discussed such a scenario.
Greece's crippling recession, now in its fifth year, must be contained if the country is to hit its targets, he said, adding that austerity measures that boosted unemployment must be scrapped.
"With this uncontrolled recession, the program's funding needs are rising. We want this to stop and to start getting out of this dead end," he said.
"This is the subject of our 'renegotiation'."
Samaras's conservative government has stumbled off to a rocky start, with its initial pick for finance minister resigning over health problems and the prime minister himself unable to travel to an EU summit because of the eye surgery.
(Reporting by Dina Kyriakidou and George Georgiopoulos; editing by Ron Askew; Writing by Deepa Babington; editing by Ron Askew)
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