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Greek PM promises hefty budget surplus, recovery in sight

Greece will post a budget surplus of at least 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion) in 2013 and return the bulk of that to cash-strapped Greeks, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said on Thursday, seeking to wrest momentum back from an emboldened leftist opposition.

Samaras, whose two-party coalition has just a three-seat majority in parliament, is under growing pressure as polls show the leftist Syriza party steadily gaining ground against the ruling parties ahead of local and EU elections in May.

Heikki Saukkomaa | AFP | Getty Images

Greece's economy shrank by almost a quarter and unemployment has soared since the country was forced to slash public spending to avoid bankruptcy. Although a six-year-long recession is seen coming to an end in 2014, many Greeks remain angry about the hardship they have endured.

In a speech to lawmakers from his conservative New Democracy party, Samaras attacked Syriza for being irresponsible and urged his deputies to stay the course.

"Syriza says 'no' to everything. And with these statements it creates problems not for the government but for the country, and puts at risk what we have worked to achieve – the sacrifices of the Greek people," Samaras said.

(Read more: Greece to exitbailout plan in 2014: Prime Minister)

He confirmed that Athens would report a surplus before interest payments of 1 billion euros or more in 2013, making it eligible for more debt relief from its euro zone and International Monetary Fund partners and allowing it to divert 70 percent of the surplus to help impoverished Greeks.

Samaras also promised to see out his term through 2016, seeking to quash growing speculation that Greece could be headed for early elections this year.

Talk of an early vote has been prompted by fears that New Democracy will fare poorly in European Elections or that Samaras would not be able to cobble together enough support to propose a candidate for the ceremonial job of President due to be elected in early 2015, which would trigger a dissolution of parliament.

"Waiting and fatigue"

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