Greece's New PM: Great Honor, Greater Responsibility

World | November 10, 2011, Thursday // 15:48|  views

Greek Prime Minister designate Loukas Papapdemos exits the presidential mansion after a political leaders council, in Athens, Greece, 10 November 2011. EPA/BGNES

Greece's newly selected Prime Minister Lucas Papademos has called for unity of the Greeks to help his nation surmount the financial turmoil of the debt crisis.

Papademos, former Vice-President of the European Central Bank, was picked to lead Greece's caretaker coalition government after 4 days of rough haggling between the major political parties in Greece as Socialist PM and PASOK party leader George Papandreou stepped down.

The 64-year-old banker will head a new national unity government backed by the governing Socialists and the opposition conservatives that will be sworn into office Friday afternoon.

"Greece is at a critical cross-roads and the path that it takes will be important for the people ... it is not an easy one but those issues will be solved more quickly with unity, understanding and wisdom to deal with the problems in the best possible manner," said Papademos, who until very recently had served as an advisor to outgoing premier George Papandreou, as cited by DPA.

"It is a great honor," he said after being named, adding, "but the responsibility is greater."

Papademos now faces the herculean task of keeping the debt-ridden country in the euro zone and away from bankruptcy, experts point out.

The new government will have a caretaker role until elections are held. Shortly after being named, Papademos contradicted earlier reports suggesting the polls would be held on February 19, saying no firm date had yet been set.

Speaking to journalists outside the presidential palace, Papademos said the country's economy faced major problems despite months of austerity.

A former economics lecturer at Columbia University in New York, Papademos played a key role in preparing Greece for eurozone membership, but had never held a political office before.

On Thursday he said his key priority would be to implement the decisions taken at an October 26-27 European Union summit in connection with a EUR 130 B European debt deal.

Political analyst Antonis Karakouris called Papademos' appointment "a wise choice", as cited by DPA.

Nikos Xydakis, a commentator with the Greek daily Kathimerini newspaper, expressed "a sigh of relief" over Thursday's decision and predicted that a likely fresh round of belt-tightening measures would further test the patience of the public.

Shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were up 3.17 per cent on the prospect of a deal.

However, the news also coincided with the release of new unemployment data from the national statistics agency ELSTAT showing that the country's jobless rate had increased to 18.4 per cent in August, from 16.5 per cent in July and 12.2 per cent a year earlier.

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Tags: Lucas Papademos, greece, Greek Prime Minister, ECB, European Central Bank, euro zone eurozone, debt crisis, debt crises, EU, IMF, bailout, bailout loan


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