Friday, June 21, 2024
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Greeks welcome news on PM

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ATHENS: Greeks lauded the nomination of new prime minister Lucas Papademos today and expressed hope his government could put the economy back on track and calm political turmoil that has threatened to force Athens out of the euro zone.

But Papademos, a former vice president of the European Central Bank, faces serious challenges at the helm of a new unity government forged this week after a chaotic power struggle between Greece’s two main political forces.

With a battle raging in Italy over a similar emergency cabinet, Papademos has 100 days to start fulfilling the terms of a 130 billion euro bailout plan aimed at keeping Greece solvent even as economists voice doubts over the euro zone’s future.

He must also ease tension among political leaders whose wrangling ahead of a snap election scheduled for early next year roiled global markets and drew rebuke from the European Union.

Most Greek media splashed headlines such as ”A New Era” and ”Hope Returns” on their front pages on Friday, while warning that there would be challenges.

In Athens, people were optimistic that taking the reins from politicians known for putting personal gain ahead of national interests and handing them to a policymaker with a proven track record could arrest the country’s deep economic slide.

”It won’t be easy for Greece to get out of the tunnel but I hope Papademos will lay the ground for the Greek economy’s revival. It’s a good start,” said Maria Apostolou, a 42-year-old trainer as she waited for a bus in central Athens.

”I am really happy he’s not a politician… Politicians are responsible for this situation. So it’s better to have technocrats governing us.”

Papademos concluded talks on Thursday with representatives from outgoing Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist party and the opposition New Democracy led by Antonis Samaras with no sign of an agreement on a cabinet list.

Sources in the two parties said Socialist party heavyweight Evangelos Venizelos would likely remain finance minister when President Karolos Papoulias swears in the new cabinet, scheduled for 1730 IST on Friday. Papademos must pass an austere 2012 budget, sell off state-owned companies, tackle rampant tax evasion and start chipping away at a mountain of debt under a bailout agreed among euro zone leaders last month. Papademos’s appointment was welcomed by economists who said he was a safe pair of hands who was less likely to waver on tough decisions than politicians. (Reuters)

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