Greece must meet bailout conditions, says new PM

 

IMPLEMENTING ALL of its commitments under its EU-International Monetary Fund bailout was essential for his country’s recovery and a prerequisite to it remaining in the euro zone, Greece’s new prime minister told deputies last night.

“The new coalition government, and myself personally, have assumed our responsibilities at this critical moment because Greece’s participation within the euro zone is at risk,” said Lucas Papademos, presenting his interim government’s programme to parliament.

In reiterating the positions that he has expressed since his appointment on Friday, the technocrat revealed nothing new in the slow-paced speech that was largely devoid of complex terminology. He said the main task of his government was to carry out the decisions of the October 27th summit “and to apply economic policies linked to these decisions”.

“I cannot complete this mission on my own,” the former Greek and European central banker added, in an appeal for unity. “The country can be saved; it depends on us.”

But speaking to his parliamentary party just hours before Mr Papademos’s address, the leader of New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, insisted his party was not engaged in power-sharing with socialist Pasok. “This is not a coalition government,” Mr Samaras told MPs. “It would only be a coalition if we had common policy goals.”

Although six unelected New Democracy officials serve as ministers in the new administration, the conservative party technically remains the main opposition as none of its deputies sit on the ministerial benches. “We are an opposition party of national responsibility,” Mr Samaras said, pledging that the party would not vote for any new austerity measures.

Mr Samaras also repeated his rejection of European demands that he provide a written undertaking that he agrees with the haircut and bailout deal agreed in Brussels. “I said it before and I say it again: I will not sign such statements.”

But his position is causing tensions within his conservative party, a broad church that accommodates liberals, centrists and those on the right. Yesterday, he expelled Sotiris Hatzigakis, New Democracy’s longest-serving deputy, from the parliamentary party. In a veiled attack on his leader, Mr Hatzigakis had earlier said that “right-wing elements” were trying to change the party.

More expulsions may be on the way after another deputy, opposed to the Brussels deal, said that he would not vote for the Papademos government in a confidence vote tomorrow.

“I will not vote even if they send me to the firing squad,” said Panos Kammenos, adding that expulsion from New Democracy was better than being “spat on by the people in the streets and called a traitor to my country”.