New Greek Finance Minister has warned the country's recovery plan was "off-track" and Greece faced "difficult years ahead" as sensitive talks with EU-IMF creditors began.

Yannis Stournaras spoke just after the first meeting between EU-IMF auditors and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.

He is eager to press the case that an exhausted Greece urgently needs a reprieve from austerity.

EU, IMF and ECB officials are in Athens to monitor Greece's progress in the implementation of the reforms agreed in return for the bailout agreed in March.

Samaras, whose government is to be confirmed in power with a weekend confidence vote in parliament, told auditors he was determined to "speed up structural reforms", but his three-party coalition has made plain its desire to revisit the deal.

New finance minister Stournaras, sworn in earlier today, warned the road ahead would be difficult.

"The programme is in fact off-track in certain areas," Stournaras told reporters. "Difficult years lie ahead, I see light at the end of the tunnel but patience is required," he added.

Crisis-hit Athens is now drawing funds from a €130 billion lifeline but Samaras and his allies want to renegotiate the agreement to avoid further job losses and put more emphasis on growth rather than austerity.

In the talks with the 'troika' of auditors, the new administration will point to worsening economic data in an attempt to argue for an easing in salary and pension cuts. Under the current terms of its bailout, Greece must adopt further cuts worth €11.5 billion by 2013 and reduce the state payroll by 15,000 people in 2012.

The new government wants to soften the blow, mindful of rising anger in Greece after over two years of austerity failed to restore the economy to health. A government spokesman said the government held "undeniable data on the current condition of the Greek economy" and that EU partners "will understand that there is no sense in pursuing certain measures."

The Greek economy is in its fifth year of recession and officials warn that it could contract by 6.7% in 2012, much worse than an earlier forecast of 4.5%.

Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg has warned that efforts to prevent Greece from going bankrupt appeared doomed to fail. "The most probably outcome is that you end up with some kind of default in Greece," he said, but added that Athens might still manage to hold on to the euro.

Finance minister Stournaras said he had been warned by auditors to expect a grilling at a meeting with eurozone finance ministers next week. "I was told to expect a difficult day on Monday at the Eurogroup," the minister said.

Today was the prime minister's first day at government headquarters after undergoing major eye surgery that sidelined him for two weeks.