PM seeks leaders' support

Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is due to meet Saturday with the leaders of the three parties in his coalition government as he attempts to obtain agreement on the demands for reforms made by the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, commonly known as the troika.
Papademos will attempt to obtain a clear commitment from PASOK’s George Papandreou, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) chief Giorgos Karatzaferis on the measures requested by the troika.

The failure of some PASOK and ND deputies to fully back a reform bill earlier this week has caused concern that Papademos will have trouble passing the legislation the troika has requested. The 10-page document distributed on Thursday calls for extra cuts worth 2.2 billion euros, 150,000 firings in the civil service as well as a series of structural reforms.

Papademos is due to take part in the European Union leaders’ summit on Monday and wants to travel to Brussels convinced that he has the backing of all three party leaders. There is considerable pressure on Greece to show a clear commitment to the steps
being requested so that Athens can receive a second bailout, currently slated to be 130 billion euros.

“Greece has not only to commit itself, Greece has to deliver. Not all of the commitments have been fulfilled. That is one of the critical issues to confidence,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos Friday.

However, there were signs Friday that Papademos could face a tough task in extracting support from all three party leaders. Speaking in Parliament, Karatzaferis made it clear that he would not sign any written commitments if they were requested.
Speaking to Reuters Friday, Papademos indicated he was hopeful that talks with the troika could be concluded soon. “The aim is to complete the discussion with the troika by the middle of next week at the latest,” he said, adding that Greece had made some positive steps. “Much more has been achieved than sometimes appears to the public. There is some slippage in the implementation of the fiscal adjustment program and the reforms but internal devaluation is already taking place.”

Papademos added that the 2011 budget deficit would come in at about 9.5 percent of GDP and that there might be modest growth next year.


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