Health problems upset Greece's renegotiation plans

The coalition government’s hopes of making a decisive start to its efforts renegotiate the terms of its loan agreement with the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund have been dealt a blow as neither Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, nor incoming Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos, will be able to travel to this week’s European Union leaders’ summit due to health problems.

The two men’s ailments also prompted the postponement of a visit to Athens by officials from the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF, who are collectively known as the troika. The troika inspectors were due to begin a visit on Monday with the aim of speaking to Samaras, Rapanos and all the other new ministers at key departments. Technical experts from the troika were to begin checking Greece’s fiscal data on July 2 with the aim of producing their regular review, to be distributed to Greece’s lenders, by the end of the month.

“The troika’s visit has been postponed for a few days,” an EU official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “A new date will be announced in the coming days.”

Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou issued a statement on Sunday saying that Samaras was under strict orders from his doctors not to travel to the two-day EU summit, which starts on Thursday, after undergoing eye surgery for a retina problem on Saturday.

The doctor treating the prime minister, Panagiotis Theodosiadis, has ruled out him being able to travel to Brussels. “I was hoping that he would announce he would not go because it was a very delicate operation. ... He needs to lie at a certain angle for a certain period each day, for at least a week. He can do meetings, but he certainly can’t walk,” Theodosiadis said, adding that his patient would leave the hospital on Monday.

Would-be Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos remained in hospital after feeling faint on Friday and complaining of stomach pains. Doctors are continuing tests on the outgoing National Bank president, who is expected to be discharged from hospital on Monday or Tuesday.

Kedikoglou added that Greece would be represented at the EU summit by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. He will be joined by outgoing Finance Minister Giorgos Zanias, Alternate Finance Minister Christos Staikouras and Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

Zanias has been involved in Greece’s bailout negotiations for the last two years. 

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