Greece unveils new coalition as bailout battle looms

Conservative leader Antonis Samaras was sworn in Wednesday as the prime minister of a new Greek coalition, as he took up the challenge of trying to revise the terms an unpopular EU-IMF bailout deal.

"With God's help we will do everything we can to take the country out of the crisis," the 61-year-old former foreign minister told reporters after a formal ceremony at the presidential palace that ended two months of political deadlock.

Samaras warned Greece was in a "critical" situation, saying: "Tomorrow, I will ask the government to work hard to give tangible hope to the Greek people.

"I have the majority to form a long-term government of stability and hope," he said, as the Greek economy struggles through a fifth year of recession.

Outgoing premier Panagiotis Pikrammenos told the new prime minister: "You have many battles ahead of you, both inside and outside Greece."

Samaras and his New Democracy party, the winners of an election on Sunday, are the senior partners in a coalition with the socialist Pasok party which will also have the parliamentary support of the small Democratic Left party.

The composition of the new government will be announced Thursday, a government official said.

The agreement comes after three days of intense international pressure for Greece to act quickly and get its reform programme back on track after an election that eased fears of an imminent euro exit for the heavily indebted country.

Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said the new government would begin "a major battle" to revise the bailout at an EU summit in Brussels next week.

Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis also said he expected the cabinet to "release the country from the painful terms" of the multi-billion loan.

New Democracy took 129 of the 300 parliamentary seats including an extra 50 seats given to the winner and Syriza took 71 seats. Pasok took 33 and Democratic Left won 17, which gives the new government a majority of 29 seats.

The radical leftist anti-austerity Syriza party came a close second in the election, winning more than a quarter of the vote and the new government will face growing public pressure to ease the austerity conditions in Greece.

Syriza said the new coalition "does not convince us that it will be able to substantially renegotiate the terms of the loan agreement or that it intends to cast doubt on the prevailing neo-liberal politics of austerity in Europe".

The government's first priority will be to restore contact with international auditors and resume the flow of loans that was suspended ahead of the election.

The International Monetary Fund is already pressing to send a team of experts to Greece as soon as possible to examine "shortfalls" over the past two months.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will attend the crunch Euro 2012 quarter final between Germany and Greece on Friday, has invited Samaras for talks in Berlin.

Merkel "wished him luck and success for the difficult work that lies ahead of him", her spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

"The federal chancellor hopes for good cooperation with Prime Minister Samaras and his government and invited him to visit Berlin," said the spokesman without giving details on when any possible meeting could take place.

Germany are among foreign creditors that have stressed that they are only willing to give Greece more time to meet a deficit reduction target currently set at 2014 but will not change the actual substance of the bailout deal agreed in February.

Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker echoed Germany's position saying: "There can be no discussions about changing the substance of the agreements but as I indicated three or four weeks ago we can by all means talk about extensions."

Although he said he would respect Greece's international commitments, Samaras promised to go further in his campaign saying he would cut property and sales taxes and freeze widely contested reductions in public salaries and pensions.

The task will fall to the new finance minister, tipped by Greek media to be National Bank of Greece chairman Vassilis Rapanos, a former economics professor who served in the economy ministry when Greece joined the euro in 2001.

Ahead of talks among euro finance ministers on Thursday, a senior European Union official appeared more open to possible concessions on the bailout, saying it would be "delusional" and "stupid" to keep the loan agreement intact.

"We would be signing off on an illusion," the source said on Tuesday, adding that a revised agreement could come "in the course of the summer".

Under the current conditions, Greece has to cut 11.5 billion euros ($14.6 billion) -- the equivalent of five percent of its gross domestic product -- by 2014, although Greek parties want this deadline to be put off to 2016.

Greece has been forced to seek bailouts twice after initially hiding its debt woes, first for 110 billion euros in 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year. It has also had a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.

The state meanwhile has stepped up short-term debt auctions to restock a depleted treasury, as officials cited in the Greek press before the election said there were only enough cash reserves to pay salaries and pensions until July 20.

The eurozone is hoping the result can draw a line under a lengthy period of uncertainty that has unsettled markets in a country where the European sovereign debt crisis kicked off in 2009 before spreading across the continent.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options