Samaras issues plea to reluctant deputies

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras issued a dramatic call to those within the government coalition who are having doubts about supporting the new austerity measures to rally together till the end, in a speech he delivered to the meeting of the New Democracy parliamentary group on Sunday morning.

Later in the day he also held separate meetings with the leaders of PASOK, Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left, Fotis Kouvelis, in an effort to obtain the maximum number of votes for the omnibus bill to be put up for voting on Wednesday in Parliament.

In a clear message to the Democratic Left, Samaras said: ?I can understand why some of those who have are on our side are having seconds thoughts. I understand that the next crucial steps are big and difficult, but they are worth the trouble. I am making a plea to everyone to proceed with us till the end.?

?How could we backtrack now that everyone understands that priority should be given to growth? How could we backtrack now that the conditions are being created for us to emerge from the crisis?? the PM wondered.

He insisted that this set of austerity measures is the last one, stressed that no more than just one tenth of the next bailout tranche of 31.5 billion euros will be returned to the country?s creditors to serve Greece?s debt and revealed that he has been pushing for the tranche to become even bigger so as to allow the government to repay all its dues to the local private sector, that amount to over 8 billion euros.

?This is the first time we will introduce a benefit for the long-term unemployed,? Samaras stressed as the Greek jobless rate has gone above the one-in-four level.

Earlier in the day PASOK deputy Mimis Androulakis had stated he would not vote for the labor reforms included in the austerity package, echoing the views of the Democratic Left.