Samaras poised to cooperate

In one of the most conciliatory statements that New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras has made on the campaign trail, the conservative chief suggested Wednesday that there was enough common ground for parties to cooperate after the June 17 election but he tempered this with a fresh attack on SYRIZA, accusing the leftist challengers of “comic book” policymaking.

Speaking to journalists in a televised press conference, Samaras said he was in favor of the creation of a “national salvation” government after Sunday’s polls. It represented a volte-face for the ND leader, who before the May 6 election had insisted that nothing but a clear majority would do for his party.

“On the renegotiation of the bailout there is convergence with a number of parties on the right and left,” he said. “I do not want to believe that the gaps cannot be bridged.”

However, Samaras suggested he would seek to become prime minister rather than stand aside for a technocrat should his party win the elections. “It is strange for us to discuss whether the head of the leading party should become prime minister,” he told journalists. “Do you think a lot of people want the premiership, especially if they have not been elected?”

However, Samaras reserved his usual harsh criticism for SYRIZA and its leader Alexis Tsipras, dismissing the party’s policy program as nothing more than “math and comic books.” He said that the program was written in drachmas, rather than euros.

The New Democracy leader also criticized the leftists for their opposition to privatization plans and investment opportunities.

SYRIZA clashed with caretaker Development Minister Yiannis Stournaras after he approved the progress of seven investment projects, including three renewable energy schemes on Crete and a gold mining venture in Thrace, that had been agreed by the previous government led by Lucas Papademos.

The projects are worth 8 billion euros and are slated to create 100,000 jobs but SYRIZA said that Stournaras’s act was a “political coup,” which it opposed because the local communities affected by the projects had not been consulted. During a visit to publicly owned Larco, Europe’s largest ferronickel producer, Tsipras said he opposed plans to privatize the company and considered it an important part of Greece’s national wealth.

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