Europe must give clear message on Finland deal: Greece

DVBP506 4 F 0289 GRC /AFP-VP16 Greece-economy-finance-public-debt-eurozone Europe must give clear message on Finland deal: Greece ATHENS, Aug 21, 2011 (AFP) - Greece on Sunday called on the European Union to show leadership to stem a growing row among eurozone members over a deal under which Finland will receive collateral for fresh loans to Athens. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos urged European officials in a letter to send "clear and positive messages" to the international markets and European countries over the deal. Finland, one of only six EU nations with a top AAA credit rating, warned it would seek collateral for its portion when Eurozone leaders agreed a 160-billion-euro ($230 billion) rescue plan for Greece in July. Helsinki hammered out a deal with Athens last week, raising immediate objections from Slovakia, Austria and the Netherlands, who said they would now seek the same guarantees for their portion of the loan. "Technical solutions are easy to find, under the condition that the credibility and the effectiveness of the program will not be affected," Venizelos said in the letter released by the finance ministry Sunday. "The issue is mainly political and must be handled as such so that clear and positive messages are always sent towards international markets and European societies," he said. The letter dated Saturday was sent to Eurozone finance ministers as well as Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn and ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet. Venizelos told an Athens radio station on Friday that it will be up to the Eurogroup to find a solution if there are requests for collateral from any other country. wv/db/lc AFP 211341 GMT AUG 11