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Euro-Parliament chief in favour of more aid to Greece

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(ATHENS) - European Parliament President Martin Schulz said Tuesday he was in favour of providing additional aid to Greece if the debt-wracked country achieves a primary surplus.

"If there is surplus we should discuss immediately... to stabilise recovery" of the economy, Schulz said during a press conference in Athens after his meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

Schulz estimated that such a discussion could take place in the spring, after Eurostat has published its macro-economic results for 2013.

Greece has predicted a slight primary surplus -- not including debt servicing costs -- of 0.4 percent of GDP or 812 million euros ($1.1 million) this year.

"After six years of recession, Greece will achieve primary surplus, something the country has not experienced for decades," said Samaras.

In November last year, the eurozone states agreed that a new write-down of Greece's huge debt would be possible if the heavily indebted country fulfils the terms of its bailout deal and achieves a primary surplus.

"We have to stick to our promises," said Schulz.

In 2012, Greece erased nearly a third of its immediate debt, nearly 106 billion euros, thanks to an unprecedented write-down agreed with private creditors including banks and pension funds.

The government, which presented next year's budget last week, predicts Greek debt will drop for the first time in 2014.

Schulz nonetheless warned there might be delays in the discussions regarding Greek debt, because of the EU Parliament elections set for May 2014.

"The procedure of the appointment of the next president will last until October," he said.


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