NEWS

Critical week for new government

The country?s new prime minister, Lucas Papademos, faces a critical week with a confidence vote in his new interim government due on Wednesday and representatives of Greece?s foreign creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, known collectively as the troika — set to return to Athens on Monday to resume talks on a stalled austerity drive which must quickly resume to secure crucial rescue funding.

Papademos is to present his administration?s main policy goals during a speech in Parliament at 7 p.m. on Monday, launching a debate that is to culminate in the confidence vote.

Papademos has already indicated that his government?s chief aim is to implement the decisions of the October 26 European Union summit where the latest debt deal for Greece was hammered out. This involves pushing through austerity measures that Greece has committed to, such as public sector layoffs. Another goal is to complete talks with the troika on a revised program of ?economic adjustment.? In addition, the government will have to pass the 2012 budget by the end of the year.

On Saturday Papademos spoke by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who both underlined the need for Greece to implement the measures it has agreed to in return for the next tranche of rescue aid.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos sent letters to all members of the new cabinet this weekend, setting out priorities to ensure targets are met and emergency funding secured.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Greece?s representative to the IMF, Panayiotis Roumeliotis, said he believed it was likely authorities would receive the 8 billion euros but that further aid would be tougher to secure.

Roumeliotis, who confirmed he was one of several candidates to whom the premiership was proposed last week, said that the troika still wants written guarantees from authorities confirming their acceptance of the terms of the new EU debt deal.

He said the troika wants four letters: one signed by Venizelos and Giorgos Provopoulos, Greece?s central bank governor, one by Papademos and one each signed by the heads of the two main parties, PASOK leader George Papandreou and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras.