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New Greek PM pledges hope, coalition gov't to be announced soon

06-21-2012 13:55 BJT

ATHENS, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Pro-bailout conservative New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras was sworn in Wednesday as prime minister of debt-crippled Greece, and pledged to work hard to give people tangible hope.

Antonis Samaras (R), party leader of the conservative party New Democracy, is sworn in as
new prime minister in the presence of Greek President Karolos Papoulias (C, back) at the
presidential mansion, central Athens, Greece, June 20, 2012. New Democracy party leader
Antonis Samaras was sworn in on Wednesday as Greece's new Prime Minister to head a
coalition government currently being formed.(Xinhua/Marios Lolos)

The announcement of the line-up of a coalition government, to be formed under an agreement between ND, the socialist PASOK party and the smaller Democratic Left, is expected to be announced Thursday and a swearing-in ceremony will follow shortly.

In his first statement to the press after being sworn in at the presidential palace Wednesday afternoon, the 61-year-old winner of Sunday's national polls said, "we will do everything we can to take the country out of the crisis."

One of the first actions of the new government, according to local reports, will be to call EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) auditors back to Athens and request a two-year extension of the stability and growth program to ease the pressure on recession-hit Greeks.

The deal on the formation of a three-party coalition government ended two months of political uncertainty in Greece that had added to its severe economic woes.

Greece had to hold another election on June 17 as the first vote on May 6 turned out to be inconclusive.

In both electoral battles, Samaras and his coalition partners vowed to honor commitments made to the EU and IMF lenders in return for multi-billion euro aid rescue loans.

But the radical left-wing rival Syriza party was in favor of pulling Greece out of the commitments, under which Greeks have to painfully tighten the belt.

The new coalition partners, with a wide majority in the new 300-member parliament, have promised to form a team to renegotiate the painful austerity terms in the bailout deals and keep Greece in the euro zone.

Outgoing caretaker Finance Minister George Zannias, who will attend Thursday's euro-zone finance ministers' meeting in Luxembourg, is expected to deliver this message to his EU counterparts.

National Bank of Greece Chairman Vasilis Rapanos is tipped to succeed Zannias as finance minister as he joined Zannias Wednesday evening in meeting with the heads of the three coalition parties, namely Samaras, PASOK's Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left's Fotis Kouvelis, to discuss Greece's stand at the EU gathering.

Local media said the three leaders will all head to Brussels to attend the EU summit next week to push through Greece's requests.

In the meantime, they were finalizing till late Wednesday the policy platform of the new government.

PASOK and Democratic Left have pledged to actively support the administration but not to appoint any of their deputies to cabinet posts except proposing technocrats.

Leaders from EU member countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have welcomed the three-party agreement on forming a pro-bailout government in Greece.

But anti-bailout forces in Greece, notably the Syriza party, doubted the new leaders' determination and ability to renegotiate effectively with creditors, vowing to stand by the side of the suffering Greek citizens.

Greek media commentators warned that the new government could soon face strong backlash from Greeks if they feel burdened with new pay cuts and tax hikes.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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