NEWS

Coalition confers as SYRIZA ups ante

With the cohesion of the tripartite government still fragile following austerity votes in Parliament earlier this month, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras met his coalition partners on Monday for talks that reportedly focused on an anticipated reshuffle as well as on Greece’s efforts to secure crucial foreign rescue loans.

The leaders agreed to the creation of a committee with officials from all parties to better coordinate the work of the coalition and discussed candidates for the reshuffle, which will not happen until after a decision on rescue aid.

Speaking to reporters after talks with Samaras, socialist PASOK chief Evangelos Venizelos said the country needed a “new start” and hit out at the opposition, remarking that “those who have invested in the death of the country will be sorely disappointed.” The leader of Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis stressed the need for a “viable economic and social program” to be put into place once aid has been secured.

The head of the main leftist opposition SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, whose party is leading in the polls, repeated calls for early elections and indicated that SYRIZA was open to cooperation with other parties. He also lashed out at the government for introducing two legislative acts – emergency legislation that does not require parliamentary approval – imposing stricter supervision on ministries and state bodies and the payment of privatization revenues directly into an escrow account. “The country is turning into a debt colony,” Tsipras said, describing the government as dangerous and Samaras as a “cheerleader” of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Responding, government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou accused Tsipras of engaging in “obsolete party politics” and of trying to “bring the country to its knees” while the government tries to put it back on its feet.