NEWS

PM cautious on extension

Samaras not intending to stake claim during talks with Merkel and Hollande

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras does not intend to formally raise the issue of extending Greece?s fiscal adjustment program by two years when he meets European leaders next week but wants to use the talks as an opportunity to sound out his counterparts ahead of some crucial decisions regarding Greece.

Sources told Kathimerini Thursday that Samaras will only officially ask for an extension at the European Union leaders? summit scheduled for October 8 and 9, which will be after the troika delivers its report on Greece to eurozone finance ministers, who will have to decide whether to release further funding for Athens.

?The decisions will not be taken on German soil but on a European [level],? one of the prime minister?s aides told Kathimerini.

Sources said that the Greek government is fully aware of the negative mood in many eurozone countries, where politicians are expressing serious reservations about keeping Greece in the eurozone. Austria?s foreign minister proposed Thursday that the eurozone create a mechanism to force countries that ?don?t meet their commitments? to leave the single currency.

?We need to create ways to be able to eject someone from the eurozone,? Michael Spindelegger, who is also deputy chancellor, told the Kurier daily.

Samaras is due to return from his vacation on Sunday, ahead of a meeting with Eurogroup chief and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in Athens on Saturday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are due to meet in Berlin on Thursday. The following day, Samaras will travel to the German capital for talks with Merkel. On Saturday, he will meet Hollande in Paris.

During a visit to Canada Thursday, Merkel called for the eurozone to speed up its efforts to form a closer political union in order to overcome the crisis.

?I made clear once again that we need a long-term, sustainable solution,? she said. ?It is a question of taking the steps that weren?t taken when the currency union was created, namely a political union,? she said.

?Germany knows that in a common currency area political responsibilities need to be shared. We are on a good path on many of these issues, but time is of the essence. We are fully aware of this.?

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