Coalition leaders meet to discuss better coordination, new goals

The leaders of the three parties that make up Greece’s coalition government met on Tuesday night in a bid to draw up a new strategy to tackle the challenges facing them over the next few months.

Sources said the three leaders agreed to closer coordination but shunned the idea of a tripartite committee, preferring to give State Minister Dimitris Stamatis the task of consulting with New Democracy’s partners over any new legislation.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hosted PASOK’s Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left’s Fotis Kouvelis for the first time since Greece’s lenders agreed to release more bailout funding. Venizelos later described the talks as being part of an effort to “organize a new starting point” for the country.

As the meeting was taking place, Rating agency Standard & Poor’s raised Greece’s sovereign credit rating to B-minus with a stable outlook, from selective default.

Kouvelis said that the issue of a cabinet reshuffle and a change to the electoral law had not come up during the conversation.

Venizelos and Kouvelis focused on the need to soften the impact of continuing austerity and recession on Greek society. “The aim is to recover from recession, limit the threat of unemployment and to regain a positive feeling,” said Venizelos.

“We have to find a safety net for the weakest,” said Kouvelis.

Both coalition leaders said there were only a few details left to agree in terms of new tax legislation.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras also attended the meeting, which he labeled “crucial.” Stournaras left the leaders to talk among themselves after a while. On exiting the talks, he said the S&P decision to raise Greece’s credit rating was “significant” and created an “hopeful atmosphere.”

He stressed, however, that there could be no letup in the government’s efforts. “The road is difficult and uphill,” said Stournaras.

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