Athens: A breakthrough in Greece`s damaging
political stalemate seemed increasingly likely on Sunday as the
opposition leader said a deal on a unity government was
possible if Prime Minister George Papandreou resigns.
Amid dire warnings that the country is about to run out of
cash and growing anger at the squabbling, Antonis Samaras said
the debt-wracked country had to give a message of stability to
the outside world.
"As long as Papandreou has not decided what he wants to
do, it is blocking any solution," said Samaras, head of the
centre-right opposition New Democracy party.
"I have decided to help. If he resigns, everything will
follow its course," Samaras said after a brief meeting with
President Carolos Papoulias designed to break the deadlock.
"We need to send a message of stability and confidence to
the outside world and stability and normality domestically,"
Samaras said in a televised exchange with Papoulias.
"Everyone needs to assume their responsibilities," Samaras
Papoulias replied: "You said what I wanted to hear."
Papandreou -- who has indicated he is prepared to step
aside for the good of the country -- was set to hold an
emergency cabinet meeting at 4:00 pm (1930 IST).
Talks over forming a unity government Papandreou says is
vital to pass a much-needed EU bailout plan and keep Greece in
the euro have also been bogged down over the issue of
Samaras have called for snap polls, whereas Papandreou has
said this would be a "catastrophe."
Meanwhile, the Greek media and people were growing
increasingly exasperated at the squabbling of their leaders.
Sunday`s edition of Kathimerini blasted the politicians
for petty squabbling as the country faces its deepest economic
crisis in decades. "Haggling on the Titanic," the paper
screamed on its front page.
"The country needs a new government by Monday to avoid
bankruptcy and the drachma," it said, in reference to Greece`s
Meanwhile, polls published in the Sunday papers showed
that the people are largely in favour of a unity government
and passionately want to keep the euro.
The cabinet discussions later in the day were to prepare
the ground for a meeting of eurozone finance ministers
The EU ministers will debate whether the conditions are in
place to release an eight billion euro (USD 11 billion) slice
of bailout cash that Greek Finance Minister Evangelos
Venizelos says is needed by December 15.
And there will be no let-up in the pressure on Athens to
implement fierce austerity measures in return for bailout
The eurozone finance ministers "will certainly reiterate
their desire to see all the main parties subscribe to the
adjustment programme," said a European government source in
Ratcheting up the pressure on politicians to put aside
their differences, a government spokesman announced late
yesterday that Athens had only seven weeks to put the terms of
the EU rescue package in place.
"According to the non-negotiable timetable ... of the
European Summit (where the plan was agreed), the new agreement
needs to be ratified in parliament by the end of 2011,"
spokesman Ilias Mossialos said in a statement.