final push for new greek government to save euro
Last Updated : GMT 12:01:24
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Final push for new Greek government to save euro

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Final push for new Greek government to save euro

Athens - AFP

Greek political chiefs were scrambling to form a unity government, name a new prime minister and call early elections Monday as they struggled to escape a debt crisis under intense international pressure. The stricken eurozone member will name its new leader and cabinet by the end of the day after talks between outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou and conservative opposition leader Antonis Samaras, a government spokesman said. The two main parties agreed on February 19 as the "most appropriate" date for early elections demanded by Samaras in exchange for his party's backing a European plan to save the country from bankruptcy. A historic power-sharing deal was reached in dramatic late-night talks on Sunday after Papandreou agreed to step down, removing a key stumbling block hours before jittery financial markets reopened. News of the Greek unity deal, which came after a G20 summit, briefly lifted the euro above $1.38 in early Asian trade Monday. But the single currency quickly lost steam to $1.3766, down from $1.3788 in New York late Friday. Trading on Asian stock markets was cautious, with Tokyo's Nikkei index down 0.55 percent in the morning and Hong Kong flat. The Greek accord came just ahead of a eurozone finance ministers' meeting on Monday over whether to release an eight billion euro ($11 billion) slice of bailout funds that the government says is needed by December 15 to keep the country afloat. The Greek president's office said in a statement: "An agreement was reached to form a new government to immediately lead the country to elections after ratifying the decisions taken by the European Council (EU summit, last month)." An earlier bid to include smaller parties in negotiations foundered after Communists and the leftist Syriza party declined to attend proposed talks. Avgi, the Syriza party newspaper, decried a "cooked-up deal to save the memorandum". That referred to the loan agreement in 2010 between Greece and the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank requiring two years of tough austerity.   Senior economic officials from the government and the opposition conservatives were to hold follow-up talks early on Monday ahead of the eurozone meeting in Brussels, the semi-state Athens News Agency said. European leaders have become increasingly frustrated at the political impasse in Athens at a time when they want to press ahead with hard-won agreements reached in late October on tackling the eurozone debt crisis. Despite the historic deal, there will likely be no let-up in the pressure on Athens to implement stinging austerity measures in return for the cash payment, available under the first May 2010 Greek bailout package. The new government will be tasked with implementing the October EU bailout deal, which calls for further harsh austerity measures in Greece, already at breaking point with its economy shrinking and unemployment rising fast. The latest turmoil began with Papandreou's shock announcement a week ago that Greece would hold a referendum on the terms of the bailout. The move stunned fellow European leaders, sent global markets into a tailspin and earned him a humiliating dressing-down prior to a G20 summit in France. Papandreou hastily retracted the proposal. Polls published in Sunday newspapers showed Greeks largely in favour of a unity government and also wanting to keep the euro. But some Greeks appear to have had enough of their squabbling leaders. "Papandreou. Samaras. They are all the same," said Takis Karalambos, as he sipped a coffee outside a market in Athens.

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