PM’s bid to fo­cus minds

Amid ap­par­ent chal­lenges to his lead­er­ship, Pa­pan­dreou calls for unity

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Prime Min­is­ter Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou gath­ered his min­is­ters yes­ter­day, a day be­fore a gen­eral strike, to urge greater unity in his gov­ern­ment and to get them to com­mit to meet­ing the fis­cal tar­gets Greece has agreed with the Euro­pean Union and the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund.

Pa­pan­dreou’s call for sol­i­dar­ity from his team came a day af­ter Health Min­is­ter An­dreas Lover­dos chal­lenged the prime min­is­ter’s au­thor­ity by call­ing for a reshuf­fle and in­di­cat­ing that the gov­ern­ment was not de­ci­sive enough.

De­fense Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los ap­peared to add to the skep­ti­cism yes­ter­day by say­ing that Greece’s eco­nomic prob­lems were es­sen­tially po­lit­i­cal prob­lems and stemmed from the lack of direc­tion and unity. The one-time PASOK lead­er­ship can­di­date later told jour­nal­ists that he was re­fer­ring to the need for op­po­si­tion par­ties, lo­cal politi­cians, unions and other in­sti­tu­tions to pull in the same direc­tion. But his com­ment was seen as an­other strike at the premier.

Yes­ter­day’s cabi­net meet­ing ap­peared to be as much an at­tempt for Pa­pan­dreou to re-es­tab­lish con­trol over his min­is­ters as it was an at­tempt to co­or­di­nate ef­forts in a week when EU and IMF of­fi­cials are vis­it­ing Greece, unions are hold­ing a 24-hour gen­eral strike and there is grow­ing spec­u­la­tion about whether the gov­ern­ment will ap­ply for more loans from its cred­i­tors or re­struc­ture its debt.

“We are send­ing a mes­sage of be­lief in the coun­try’s pow­ers and de­ter­mi­na­tion to change Greece,” said Pa­pan­dreou.

The premier ad­mit­ted that the gov­ern­ment has to be clearer and more ef­fec­tive in its ac­tions. “This will be the best re­sponse to those who doubt Greece’s progress or even bet on its fail­ure,” he added.

Pa­pan­dreou had re­peated a sim­i­lar mes­sage when he met Pres­i­dent Karo­los Papou­lias ear­lier in the day. The sud­den an­nounce­ment of the meet­ing sparked spec­u­la­tion about the prime min­is­ter pos­si­bly call­ing snap elec­tions but he moved quickly to douse the idea.

The Cabi­net is due to meet again next week to dis­cuss the re­vised ver­sion of Greece’s midterm fis­cal plan, cov­er­ing the pe­riod up to 2015. Fi­nance Min­istry of­fi­cials have been re­vis­ing the de­tails of the plan, which is ex­pected to be much more am­bi­tious in the hope that it will meet with the ap­proval of the EU and the IMF.

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