Papandreou Calls for Meeting With Samaras, Papoulias
The political thriller in Greece has taken a new turn with Prime Minister George Papandreou's call for a meeting between himself, President Karolos Papoulias and opposition leader Antonis Samaras, raising fresh speculation the premier may resign.
The aim of the meeting at 8.30pm tonight is to reach an agreement on the country's political future as soon as possible, said Papandreou. A meeting with the Council of Ministers has reportedly produced seven conditions for the formation of a consensus government, including securing the next tranche of the 110 billion-euro rescue fund for Greece; and elections in March 2012.
For his part, Samaras has laid down three conditions for a consensus government; the first is that Papandreou resigns, the second is that the transitional government ratifies the EU-IMF loan agreement but no new austerity laws or measures; and the third condition is early elections.
In response to Samaras' call for his resignation, Papandreou said that his government would hand over the baton, but not in a vacuum, and that it will take time to organise new elections, possibly by February or March 2012.
Last week, Papandreou surprised EU leaders with a proposal that a 50 percent devaluation of Greece's sovereign debt should go to a public referendum. There was considerable market unrest over the announcement and European stock markets fell on the news, which was seen as a potential exit for Greece from the Eurozone. EU leaders Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy made strong statements criticising the idea and saying that Greece would not get one more cent in a 110 billion euro bailout agreed with the IMF and EU.
The debt devaluation plan just passed a vote of confidence in the Hellenic Parliament on November 4th, but uncertainty prevails, along with the difficulties austerity measures have brought to the Greek economy. With over 800,000 unemployed, a staggering debt of 365 billion euros, internal political struggles and a sluggish economy, Greece's dark days are not yet over.
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