Samaras gives limited support to 'transitional' gov't

In his first speech to New Democracy MPs since he agreed for the conservatives to take part in an interim government, Antonis Samaras said that his party would not support any new austerity measures proposed by the short-term administration.

Under the premiership of former central banker Lucas Papdemos, the unity government is due to negotiate a second bailout package with the EU and IMF. But Samaras said that his party would not vote for any measures that are derived from this deal.

?This is not a coalition government,? said Samaras. ?It would only be a coalition if we had common policy goals. The criticism of the policy followed by the [George] Papandreou government over the last to years does not end here.?

New Democracy had opposed the austerity measures attached to the first bailout, arguing for lower taxes and more incentives for business.

?We have committed to helping the transitional government but we do not commit to anything else,? he told the conservative lawmakers.

Samaras said the interim was a ?temporary? solution and stressed that elections would have to be held on February 19 so people could express their opinion on what government they wanted.

In a speech that was highly critical of former premier Papandreou, Samaras accused him of ?leaving the economy hanging by a thread.?

The ND leader said that his party entered what he emphasized was a ?transitional? government to achieve four specific targets: to stop Papandreou from holding a referendum on Greece?s euro membership, to remove him from power, to support a government that would secure the next bailout and to fix a date for early elections.

?We achieved all our targets within a week,? said Samaras.

Samaras accused Papandreou and his office of trying to create the impression that ND was blocking the process of finding a new leader and forming an interim government.

The conservative chief said that Papademos was not proposed as a candidate until midnight on Wednesday, November 9. He added that Papademos never set any terms for accepting the premiership, as had been suggested by Papandreou?s office.

?I did not fall into the trap,? said Samaras, claiming that the outgoing prime minister had tried to lure the ND leader into publicly rejecting terms that never existed.