NEWS

PM rallies rivals before summit

As the European Union and Germany remained at loggerheads over a possible rescue package for debt-ridden Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday called on opposition party leaders to support his government’s efforts to push through reforms and join a «real revolution» to get the country back on its feet. Addressing Parliament, Papandreou said he was not seeking carte blanche for the government’s austerity measures but «a spirit of support for the most important battle we face: creating a well-functioning state.» The premier sought to appeal to the patriotic sentiments of MPs. «I am seeking your constructive support in what will be a genuine revolution, your contribution to a new course for the country and for Hellenism,» he said. Papandreou took another jab at market speculators who have been betting on Greece’s risks of bankruptcy as did his outspoken deputy premier, Theodoros Pangalos, at a conference in Athens organized by the International Herald Tribune. Referring to the «German position,» Pangalos said, «By speculating on Greek bonds at the expense of your friend and partner, by allowing your credit institutions to participate in this deplorable game, some people are making money.» Pangalos added that a swift move was crucial. «I am worried that if this decision is not taken quickly… then the euro will make no sense and if the euro fails this will take us back several decades in terms of European integration,» he said. Papandreou, for his part, appeared cautiously upbeat about the prospect of European Union leaders offering Greece concrete support when they convene in Brussels on Thursday. «We fought our first battle, the battle for credibility and we won it. We convinced people that we are turning our words into actions,» he said. But elsewhere in Europe, support for Greece appeared divided. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, whose country holds the EU presidency, stressed the importance of showing Greece «trust and solidarity.» European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to overcome domestic concerns and contribute to a rescue deal for Greece or put the entire eurozone at risk. «We can’t carry on as we are, as this would threaten the stability of the eurozone and encourage speculation,» Barroso told a German newspaper. Merkel stuck to her guns though, noting that the EU should only bail out Greece when it’s «on the brink of bankruptcy, which luckily it is not at the moment.»