Greek PM cannot attend summit
Greece's new prime minister and incoming finance minister, who have been ill, will miss this week's EU summit when Athens will propose easing the terms of its bailout and international lenders have had to postpone a first meeting with the team.
Prime minister Antonis Samaras underwent eye surgery yesterday and Vassilis Rapanos is in hospital after suffering from nausea, intense abdominal pains and dizziness on Friday before he could be sworn in as finance minister.
The foreign minister and outgoing finance minister will attend the June 28th-29th meeting to ask for the terms of the €130 billion bailout to be loosened.
A European Union official said the unexpected turn of events had forced the postponement of a visit to Athens tomorrow by officials from Greece's troika of lenders - the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The officials had been expected to meet Mr Samaras and Mr Rapanos and set a later date for a review of Greece's implementation of reforms required under the programme.
"The troika's visit has been postponed for a few days," the EU official said on condition of anonymity.
"A new date will be announced in the coming days."
Mr Samaras's coalition government, sworn in last week, has called for the renegotiation of the painful terms of the financial lifeline, which is keeping Greece from bankruptcy but at the cost of harsh economic suffering.
The government faces a stern test at the two-day EU summit, with euro zone paymaster Germany particularly resistant to giving Athens any leeway.
Greece will be represented by foreign minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and outgoing finance minister George Zanias, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said.
He said Mr Samaras would leave hospital tomorrow after undergoing a successful operation to repair a damaged retina.
"The orders of his doctor are for him not to travel and to stay at home for a few days," he said. The hospital said his condition was "good and improving."
"The prime minister cannot travel by car or by plane," Panagiotis Theodosiadis, chief doctor at the Attika hospital, said.