LAOS leader refuses to give signature

Giorgos Karatzaferis, the leader of the third party in the government?s shaky coalition, the rightwing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), told Parliament on Friday that he would not offer the written guarantees that Greece?s foreign creditors are demanding as a prerequisite for the approval of a second bailout.

Karatzaferis said that the signature of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos should suffice, adding that demands for additional signatures from the party leaders ?would be met by resistance, purely as a matter of principle.? The rightwing leader insisted that he was not shirking his responsibilities and that he was committed to implementing reforms but that the demand for signatures ?trivialized? the process. «No-one should expect a signature of subservience,» Karatzaferis said. «We are ready to fulfill our obligations but not to bow to ultimate disgrace.» His comments were reminiscent of the objections expressed by conservative New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras in December when creditors once again demanded written commitments to Greece?s economic reform program.

As Papademos was absent from Parliament on Friday, preparing for talks with representatives of the foreign creditors, his deputy Theodoros Pangalos answered Karatzaferis. He said that Greece should not become ?an object of chastisement? but emphasized that a crucial debt swap deal (dubbed PSI for private sector involvement) and the second bailout were crucial and would determine the country?s course in coming years.

Papademos is expected to convene the latest in a series of joint meetings of party leaders on Saturday with the aim of securing their commitment to the reform effort. It is likely that he will press the leaders for the guarantees demanded by foreign creditors to put him in a stronger position ahead of a crucial European Union summit in Brussels on Monday.

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