Presidency could slow gov’t work

Fearing that Greece’s forthcoming tenure of the rotating European Union presidency will increase the workload on senior Cabinet members to the extent that they neglect their domestic duties, Costas Simitis’s advisers are pressing the PM to impose binding schedules on top ministers. Sources in the prime minister’s office said Simitis’s aides are deeply concerned at the prospect of a six-month hiatus in the government’s work starting in January – when Greece takes over from Denmark – about a year and a half before the ruling Socialists, who have steadily trailed opposition New Democracy in popularity since the spring 2000 polls, will be seeking re-election. Simitis’s aides will raise the matter in talks with the PM early next week, before his departure on Thursday for a conference of European socialist parties in Warsaw. Furthermore, over the next few days, Simitis must make his final decisions concerning PASOK’s efforts to forge an alliance with the – largely unwilling – Synaspismos Left Coalition party. These will be made public at the Socialists’ central committee meeting at the end of this month.

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