NEWS

PM looks for crisis boost

The government is expected to finalize today the details of its plan to ensure the stability of the banking market, as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who has canceled a planned trip to China in order to focus on dealing with the financial crisis, is hoping that some decisive action by the ruling conservatives can help revive their flagging poll ratings. Karamanlis attended the emergency summit of eurozone leaders in Paris on Sunday but, unlike many of the other countries at the meeting, Greece did not announce the details of how it plans to ensure there is enough liquidity in the market. France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Italy yesterday announced plans to spend more than 1 trillion euros in an effort to shore up their banks. The Greek government is only expected to finalize the details of its plan today, when Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis returns to Athens from Washington. With that out of the way, Karamanlis plans a series of meetings aimed at tackling the financial crisis. He will leave today for a summit meeting in Brussels and then travel to Frankfurt for talks with the president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet. Greece is hoping that the terms of the eurozone’s Stability Pact will be eased, which would allow the government to increase handouts for pensioners and the poor. Karamanlis decided to cancel a trip to China that had been lined up for next week so he could concentrate on the credit crisis. Some commentators had criticized his visit to Malta last week at a time when there were rapid developments in the world’s financial markets. According to sources, the prime minister is hoping that if he provides strong and decisive leadership during the crisis, even though Greece has yet to feel the full force of its consequences, it will help his government regain some of its lost popularity. Karamanlis may look to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has managed to improve his disastrous poll ratings on the back of his leadership during the financial meltdown. The two leaders are due to meet next week and Karamanlis is then expected to fly to Qatar for talks that are thought to be linked to interest by Qatar Air in buying Olympic Airlines.