Greek PM to miss EU summit after eye surgery: government

 Greece's new prime minister and finance minister will for health reasons both miss a key EU summit where they were to launch efforts to renegotiate the terms of an unpopular austerity-centred bailout.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was told to avoid travel after undergoing major eye surgery, the government said today, meaning that Greece will be represented at the summit by Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Incoming Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos, who has yet to take his oath of office, is currently also in hospital after being admitted with strong stomach pains on Friday.

Neither Samaras nor Rapanos are due to be discharged from hospital until Monday.
The PM's surgeon Panagiotis Theodosiadis said Samaras would take "days and weeks" to fully recover from a 3.5-hour surgery yesterday to remedy 11 cracks found in his retina. He is expected to stay at home for at least a week.

But the coalition government under Samaras that emerged from June 17 elections already has a mountain to climb and no time to lose.

State coffers are almost empty, with reserves set to last until late July.Structural reforms pledged in return for billions of euros in EU-IMF loans were suspended as the country held two elections in six weeks, with the first on May 6 failing to produce a workable government.

As a result, the so-called 'troika' of creditors keeping Greece alive -- the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank -- lack a clear image of where the country stands, and no new funds can be released until this is clarified.

The exception is a one-billion-euro installment left over from before the elections, which is expected to be released by the end of June.

But it is too small a sum to make a difference.Greece needs 7.6 billion euros (USD 9.5 billion) just by the end of July to cover maturing debt and the state's tax takings are short of target.
EU-IMF auditors are to return to Greece on Monday to resume an inspection of the country's finances that was last conducted in February.

In his election campaign, Samaras had pledged to redress "injustices" in the austerity-centred bailout deal which most Greeks consider to have exacerbated the recession and killed off any demand left in the economy.

Comments (+)