ND, PASOK leaders seek to allay European fears

The leaders of the two parties that signed Greece’s second debt deal with its foreign creditors, Antonis Samaras of conservative New Democracy and Evangelos Venizelos of socialist PASOK, on Wednesday assured European counterparts of their commitment to the pact in principle but sought backing for revising some of its terms.

In comments after meetings with European Union leaders on the sidelines of a European People’s Party (EPP) convention being held in Brussels alongside an EU summit, Samaras said Greece’s European partners had shifted stance. Samaras, who met Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP President Wilfried Martens and the Irish and Portuguese prime ministers, Enda Kenny and Pedro Coelho, declared that “Europe needs a new growth orientation,” noting that ND had long insisted on the need for growth. The conservative leader, who is Thursday to meet Italian Premier Mario Monti, presented a six-point plan for Greece’s recovery foreseeing tax incentives for investors and measures to curb the social impact of the crisis.

He stopped short of condemning leftist SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who wants to reject the debt deal.

But, closing the EPP summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, indirectly criticized Syriza’s stance. “Claims being made by some, according to which Greece can reject the deal but remain in the euro, are not a utopia but a lie,” he said.

Venizelos, who attended the European Socialist Party’s summit along with former Premier George Papandreou, also presented his own six-point plan focusing on the aspects of the debt deal he would like to see renegotiated, such as the relaxing of collective labor contracts. Venizelos, who met peers from Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal as well as French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, also struck a positive tone. “The situation is critical but it can be overcome with the help and support of Europe,” he said.


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