GREECE’S OUTGOING prime minister George Papandreou has made an address to the nation in which he has insisted his country will do whatever is required to remain a part of the eurozone.
In the live televised speech – broadcast to a prime-time 6pm local audience – Papandreou said the talks on forming a new national coalition were “taking into account the best interest of the country”.
“We will do whatever is required to stay in the Eurozone, and to take advantage of the deal of October 26 and 27,” he said, referring to the meeting of European finance ministers two weeks ago which signed off on a deal to allow Greece write off half of its current debts.
Papandreou refused to give details on the progress of talks between himself and the leaders of the other main parties on the formation of the new national government, however – fuelling further speculation that the critical talks remain deadlocked.
BBC News reported on speculation that Filippos Petsalnikos – the current speaker in the Greek parliament, who is a member of Papandreou’s PASOK socialist movement – would be the agreed candidate to take over the premiership from Papandreou.
The speaker now seems to be the frontrunner, overtaking the former European Central Bank vice-president Lucas Papademos, to become the interim prime minister.
The new government needs to be formed quickly so it can work to pass enough budget laws to trigger the release of the second €130 billion bailout.
That approval will allow the release of €8 billion in loan instalments which are still due from its current bailout. Without that money, the country will be broke by the end of the year and will have to either default on international loans, or cease paying public pensions and welfare.