Greek PM says coalition talks to start soon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Athens- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou formally launched on Saturday a bid to form a national unity coalition to implement a European Union (EU) pact to tackle the Greek debt crisis.

"I informed the president on my intention to seek wide consensus in order to proceed with the implementation of the historic decisions of October 26 upon which depends our membership in the eurozone," said Papandreou after meeting with President Karolos Papoulias.

He added that the necessary contacts with all opposition parties will begin immediately.

During his meeting with Papoulias, Papandreou reiterated the statement he made Friday night during a confidence vote session at the Greek parliament which he won by 153 to 145 votes, that he is not "clinched to his post."

Once again he indicated his willingness to step aside in order to facilitate the formation of a new bi-partisan government so that the country will not be forced to early general elections.

Papoulias stressed that it is a moment of responsibility for all, assuring the prime minister that he will do his utmost to contribute to all necessary efforts in this direction.

Meanwhile, main opposition New Democracy party MPs insisted on their leader Antonis Samaras' demand for the resignation of Papandreou and immediate elections, local media reported on Saturday morning.

In such a case, Papandreou will be left with the option of forming a coalition government with two minor opposition parties whose leaders have expressed their willingness to join such a government, but insisted on the necessity for the New Democracy party to accept the prime minister's proposal.

The top priority of the new government would be the ratification of the Oct. 26 EU agreement that is vital to stave off a possible default by the end of the year.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Friday night that the new national unity government should remain in office until at least the end of February to ensure full implementation of all necessary procedures to stabilize the economy.

He said the new administration would have to ensure the release of the next EU/International Monetary Fund loan instalment in coming weeks and finalize legislation for the new bailout.