Crisis calls for ‘new tools’

Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday told an international summit that «new tools» were needed to tackle a debt crisis that has engulfed Greece and is threatening the eurozone and said that the green economy could be an agent for warding off recession and boosting growth. Meanwhile government sources in Athens doused rumors about an impending reshuffle that had been prompted by the resignation of a deputy minister over a tax evasion scandal involving her husband. Addressing a summit of leaders from the European Union and Latin America in Madrid, Papandreou sought to paint an optimistic picture of Greece’s prospects for emerging from the current crisis. Papandreou said the green economy could create new jobs and emphasized the importance of renewable energy sources which remain relatively untapped in Greece. «We have taken difficult measures and formulated a program for exiting this crisis so that Greece can have a sustainable economy of growth with many prospects,» the premier said. Back in Athens, the mood seemed less optimistic. Rumors of an impending government reshuffle abounded following the resignation late on Monday of Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Angela Gerekou whose singer husband is alleged to owe the tax office 5.5 million euros. The news of the alleged misdeeds of Tolis Voskopoulos came at a bad time for the government which has been intensifying a crackdown on tax evasion, believed to account for some 40 percent of gross domestic product. But a government source dismissed rumors of a reshuffle as «utterly groundless.» Asked yesterday about Gerekou’s resignation, the leader of the conservative opposition New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, remarked that «the prime minister’s decision came rather late,» suggesting that the former actress had been asked to quit rather than stepping down voluntarily, as a government spokesman had said. Both Samaras and Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), had called for Gerekou to quit after her husband was linked to tax evasion. The two opposition leaders yesterday agreed on the need for consensus on issues of major national importance, such as the response to the debt crisis, but, according to sources, they failed to see eye to eye on anything else.

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