WASHINGTON  - Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said, in an interview published late Saturday, that exiting the eurozone was “not an option for Greece and expressed his determination to forge ahead with painful reforms.

“We have to make sure that we abide by what we have signed because we believe that what they call ‘Grexit’ (a Greek exit from the eurozone) is not an option for us,” Samaras told The Washington Post.

“It would be a catastrophe,” he added. “In 2013, we are going to have a country in the sixth year of a recession with unemployment above 22 percent and rising. We are here to fulfill our obligations, to meet our targets.”

Samaras, who became prime minister earlier this year, is trying to implement major budget cuts demanded by the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank in return for vital bailout funds. But the Greek prime minister insisted it would be impossible for parliament to approve these cuts right now. “I have to pass it through parliament, and it will pass parliament because we all realize the No. 1 prerequisite for our future is to stay in the euro zone,” he said.

“But it is a four-year program, not something we can do today.”