NEWS

PM set for new consensus bid ahead of summit

Prime Minister George Papandreou might make another attempt to find some common ground with opposition leaders ahead of a eurozone summit in Brussels on Thursday, which Greek government sources referred to as the most important such meeting in the last 20 years.

It is likely that the prime minister or Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will speak to opposition leaders, probably over the phone, before the summit.

Speaking on Monday, government spokesman Ilias Mossialos criticized New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras, saying he was motivated by ?petty party political gains,? but invited him to ?realize how crucial the circumstances are.?

The chances of any agreement between PASOK and ND appear extremely slim at the moment. The two parties have been involved in a furious exchange over the past few days after Health Minister Andreas Loverdos admitted that the Socialists had been irresponsible when they were in opposition. ND accused Loverdos of admitting that PASOK had told lies.

The minister commented again on the issue on Monday. Speaking to Skai TV, he said, ?I will continue to speak out because I have a completely different view about what the role of opposition parties should be.? Loverdos denied that he harbored ambitions to lead PASOK.

Another factor that makes consensus virtually impossible is that it is unclear what the eurozone leaders will agree on, if anything. Greece is hoping to clinch a deal for a second bailout, which is likely to include the involvement of the private sector. Several forms of participation are being discussed, including a bond swap and a haircut. Another idea that was made public yesterday was the possibility of a bank levy being used to raise money for Greece.

An unnamed European Union official told Reuters that any agreement on a bond swap this week would probably be quite small but would pave the way for a more comprehensive restructuring in a few months? time.