NEWS

Samaras comes under EU pressure

The leader of the main conservative opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, on Wednesday came under additional pressure from European Union officials who pressed him to reach a political consensus with Greece?s Socialist government on a new raft of austerity measures aimed at saving the country from default.

In a written statement, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy urged Samaras to ?urgently? cooperate with the Greek government.

Following talks with Samaras in Brussels, Van Rompuy reiterated the EU?s readiness to continue supporting Greece but said he also expected ?broader political backing from all sides? for the country?s austerity drive.

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, was equally firm in a statement he issued after his talks with the ND leader, calling on Samaras to ?practically commit to efforts to reach a broad national consensus.?

A source close to Samaras confirmed that the Greek opposition leader and the European officials had not seen eye-to-eye. ?There were no grounds for agreement whatsoever,? the source told Kathimerini.

On Tuesday, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged Samaras to ?support the new structural plan being negotiated by the Greek government? and emphasized ?the need for Greek political forces to show responsibility at this crucial time.?

Samaras has resisted overtures from the Greek government for consensus, proposing instead his own alternative fiscal program featuring tax cuts rather than hikes.