NEWS

PM seeks support from political rivals

Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday met with the leaders of the main opposition parties in Parliament in a bid to find common ground ahead of a European Union summit later this month where Greece hopes to secure improved terms for the repayment of 110 billion euros it is borrowing from its eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund.

The premier took the opportunity to douse speculation about early elections – noting that his administration ?still has a lot of work to do? – and stressed that the talks with his political rivals were not only aimed at establishing a broad political consensus. ?All parties need to assume political responsibility,? Papandreou said. He added that his Socialist administration was prepared to push its European counterparts for better borrowing terms for Greece.

Emerging from the Maximos Mansion, the leader of the main conservative opposition party New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, called for ?radical changes to the terms of the memorandum,? referring to Greece?s agreement to push through austerity measures and structural reforms in exchange for emergency loans from its international creditors.

?The problem today is the asphyxiation of the Greek economy which the memorandum itself is causing,? Samaras said after his talks with Papandreou. Samaras said he supported the creation of a Eurobond and the extension of the period given to Greece to repay its debts to creditors.

The leader of the far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, struck a similar note, calling on the government to adopt ?a more aggressive policy? opposite its European partners at the EU summit later this month, noting that ?what is at stake on March 25 is not the future of Greece but the future of Europe.?

Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga was, predictably, even more downbeat, noting that ?there is no scope for consensus? following her talks with the premier. ?The worst has yet to come,? Papariga said, noting that any decision to emerge from Brussels would involve more austerity measures. She added that her party cannot participate in a procedure that essentially amounts to ?choosing whether the rope the Greek people will hang itself with will be made of silk or hair.?