Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday called for action to tackle unemployment in the European Union at a conference in Berlin organized by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, warning that other countries faced the side effects seen in peripheral nations.
“If we don’t tackle unemployment now, populism and extremism will become a reality in all countries and not only for those with problems,” Samaras said six months before Greece is to assume the rotating EU presidency and ahead of European Parliament elections next May.
He called for EU funding to go toward boosting employment and small businesses. Athens is keen to see the creation of an investment fund with money from German government-owned bank KfW. The issue is to be broached during a visit to Athens by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on July 18 while Samaras is to meet in Athens on Thursday with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Italian Premier Enrico Letta is expected to visit Athens on July 29 following an invitation by Samaras on Wednesday.
Meanwhile Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis, whose party quit the coalition over Samaras’s decision to shut state broadcaster ERT, accused the premier of wanting to trigger snap polls but buckling under EU pressure. “When a prime minister decides to proceed alone, he wants elections,” Kouvelis said.