Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Greece forms government, doubts remain

A three-party coalition was formed in Greece on Wednesday (20 June) with Antonis Samaras sworn in as new prime minister, a precondition for any negotiations on the second bail-out to take place.

"Our efforts have yielded a parliamentary majority to form a durable government which will bring hope and stability," Samaras said when being sworn in by the country's president, three days after narrowly winning the elections over the anti-bail-out radical left Syriza party.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Greek guards: questions remain as to how long the new government will last (Photo: Nikita Avvakumov)

But Samaras' own party, New Democracy, and its main coalition partner Pasok are the two rival forces that dominated Greek politics since 1974 and largely responsible for the financial mess the country is in.

It is unclear how long their alliance will last amid attacks from a strong left-wing opposition and the likelihood of more mass protests in the coming months.

Their main objective in the coming days is to form a negotiation team ready for a showdown with the troika of international lenders and eurozone finance ministers. Athens wants longer deadlines and fewer austerity measures in return for the €130bn bail-out.

"The most critical issue is the formation of the national negotiation team and ensuring that it is successful," Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos told reporters.

The small Democratic Left party is also part of the coalition. Its leader Fotis Kouvelis is also calling for a "gradual" phase-out from the austerity programme that "has bled society."

EU officials in Brussels have suggested that minor changes and deadline extensions can be negotiated over the summer, but not the overall goals of the bail-out - to bring down Greece's debt to 120 percent of GDP by 2020, restore economic growth and keep a balanced budget.

A first discussion with the new Greek finance minister is to take place on Thursday in Luxembourg, at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers joined by International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde.

With Greece in its fifth year of recession, missed deficit targets, thousands of closed businesses and people removing money from the banks, the austerity recipe accompanying the bail-out is a hard sell.

On Wednesday, the office of Austrian central banker Ewald Novotny reminded eurozone decision-makers what is at stake: "The single-minded concentration on austerity policy [in the 1930s] led to mass unemployment, a breakdown of democratic systems and, at the end, to the catastrophe of Nazism."

Agenda

Troika back in Greece this WEEK

The troika of international lenders returns to Athens this week to take stock of delays in implementing the bailout-linked austerity measures. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank may take some crisis-alleviating measures on Thursday.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Advertisements
  2. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  3. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  4. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  6. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  7. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  8. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  9. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  10. Malta EU 2017Consumer Protection Laws to Be Strengthened by EU-Wide Cooperation
  11. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted
  12. UNICEFSyria Conflict 6 Years On: Children's Suffering at Its Worst

Latest News

  1. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  2. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament
  3. Catalonia and Scotland at core of Europe's geopolitical conundrum
  4. La présidentielle française sous cyber-alerte maximale
  5. EU doing well in global energy ranking
  6. Child migrants endure 'abysmal conditions'
  7. French socialist woos Europe with new vision
  8. EU to Macedonia: 'Stop playing with fire'