ATHENS, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- New Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos pledged on Monday evening the parliamentary ratification of the EU bailout deal by the year.
He also vowed to accelerate the structural reforms "to restore confidence" within and outside the debt-ridden country.In his first address to the Greek parliament since he took office last Friday, the former European Central Bank vice-president presented the main targets of his interim three-party coalition government.
The speech was delivered ahead of a confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday.
The first priority, according to Papademos, is to secure the release of the sixth tranche of the first EU/International Monetary Fund aid package by December 15 to avert a Greek bankruptcy.
Greek Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said that the "green light" could be given during a euro zone tele conference on Thursday.
In parallel, Papademos' administration will step up deliberations with international creditors on the new aid package, aiming at his approval by the Greek assembly in 2011, said the Greek Premier.
Amongst the main goals are also the ratification of the 2012 budget and the acceleration of the necessary structural reforms, such as the liberalization of closed markets and professions and a privatization program, along fiscal discipline, to restore confidence, added Papademos.
He acknowledged that the budget deficit this year will stand at 9 percent of GDP, above the initial target set under the three-year stability and growth program launched in 2010.
"What is at stake is Greece's membership in the euro zone. We can address the challenge with the solidarity of European Union and international organizations, with the implementation of the needed policies and the unity of Greek people, stressed Papademos.
The formation of the coalition government between socialist PASOK party of former Prime Minister George Papandreou, conservative New Democracy (ND) party and far-right Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party to lead Greece to early general elections in February, was regarded as a positive sign of consensus.
But, disagreements remain. Addressing his parliamentary group on Monday afternoon, ND leader Antonis Samaras reiterated his denial to sign the written commitment to the October 26 agreement together with Papademos, Papandreou, Venizelos and central Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Provopoloulos, as requested by European counterparts.
"I have said it before and I repeat it. I am not signing such statements. My word should be enough," said Samaras, adding that his party is not willing to support further harsh austerity measures.
During the meeting of his parliamentary group, Samaras also expelled deputy Sotiris Hatzigakis from the group following his remarks about "far-right elements in the party."
Papandreou resigned amid strong reactions across Europe and within his party over his call for a referendum on the October 26 agreement that fuelled fears of a possible Greek exit from the euro zone and a default that could rock European economies.
Left-wing parties and labor unions that protest the austerity and reform drive since last year, showed no intentions to end their fight.
As Papademos was addressing the parliament on Monday, Left party protesters staged a symbolic anti-austerity rally in front of building, while the umbrella union of public servants ADEDY has called for a work stoppage on Tuesday.
ATHENS, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Greece's new coalition government headed by former European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos was sworn in on Friday, amid hopes to put an end to the country's political turmoil.
The new interim cabinet was scheduled to hold their first meeting later on Friday, shortly after the ceremony hosted at the Presidential mansion by Greek President Karolos Papoulias. Full story
ATHENS, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The official appointment of former European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos as the head of the new Greek coalition government to be sworn in on Friday caused mixed reactions by opposition parties and people in Athens. Full story
BRUSSELS, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of the European Union (EU) on Thursday urged the Greek unity government to fulfill the country's commitments to get itself out of the debt crisis. Full story