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Greek parties brace for wrangling

11-07-2011 12:59 BJT

Greek party leaders bickered yesterday over the formation of a crisis coalition, with the finance minister under pressure to secure rescue funding by telling his European peers within 24 hours that the nation can restore political stability.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou talks to reporters after his meeting with Greek President Carolos Papoulias on Saturday. Photo: AFP

In the hunt for an elusive national consensus, President Karolos Papoulias met the conservative opposition leader.

“This uncertainty that is torturing the Greek people must end. We must find a solution,” Papoulias said before starting closed-door talks with New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.

However, Samaras rejected any compromise while George Papandreou remains prime minister. “I am determined to help. Provided that Papandreou resigns, everything will take its course,” he said after the talks, without saying explicitly whether he would join a coalition.

The president has called on parties to cooperate in resolving the crisis after a tumultuous week when Papandreou first announced and then ditched a plan for a popular vote on a eurozone bailout, leaving his grip on power weakened.

Papandreou has asked the president to host talks between himself and Samaras after yesterday’s cabinet meeting, a source at the prime minister’s office quoted him as telling his cabinet.

With the presidential appeals for consensus falling on deaf ears so far, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos has some explaining to do soon.

Venizelos is under heavy pressure to tell fellow eurozone finance ministers in Brussels today that Greece is on the way to reaching a broad national consensus on backing the 130 billion euro ($178 billion) bailout deal agreed last month.

Government spokesman Ilias Mossialos expressed optimism without saying what advances toward agreeing on a new government, if any, had been made. “The process could be completed by mid-week and it would be a good idea if it were completed as soon as possible,” he told state television.

On the face of it, Venizelos may have little to offer at today’s Eurogroup meeting in Brussels.

He has already received one lecture when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy summoned him and Papandreou before a G20 meeting in Cannes last week.

The leaders made clear that Greece would receive not one cent more in European aid until it had signed up to the latest bailout, the second package since Athens had to go cap in hand to the European Union and IMF in May last year.

Greeks have fought the pay and pensions cuts, combined with higher taxes, demanded by the international lenders with a series of strikes and protests, some violent.

However, the state is due to run out of money in December, when it has big debt repayments to meet, and by then needs the sixth installment of its existing EU/IMF bailout package.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Global Times

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