NEWS

Barroso did not choose PM, says PASOK chief

PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos (photo) on Tuesday laughed off a Financial Times report that European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso had a hand in the creation of a three-party interim government led by ex-central banker Lucas Papademos in late 2012.

Venizelos, in Brussels in his capacity as foreign minister, was commenting publicly for the first time on the report, which went behind the scenes of the G20 summit in Cannes in November 2011, when eurozone leaders reacted angrily to then Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s plans to hold a referendum on the country’s bailout program.

“Mr Barroso did not have the main role in the discussion and the process,” said the PASOK chief. “Whoever says this does not have an understanding of the international balance of power and of the roles that EU figures have.”

Venizelos also said that Papademos had not been first choice to become interim prime minister. Before he was sworn in on November 11, Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and PASOK veteran Apostolos Kaklamanis had been suggested for the role, Venizelos claimed.

However, Venizelos defended the decision not to proceed with a referendum, which eurozone leaders insisted should only be on whether Greece should remain in the euro. The PASOK leader suggested that proceeding with the vote would have led to a flight of deposits. “Did anyone want the banks to collapse the next day and the country to default?” he said.

The issue is unlikely to be settled soon, though. PASOK MEP and former Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas wrote to Barroso on Tuesday to ask for his comments on the Financial Times article. He said a “very serious institutional and moral issue” had been raised by the report, which indicated that Barroso had intervened “in the domestic political affairs of a member state in order to overturn the democratically elected government of a European country.”

Online