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Greek PM pledges cooperation

Source:AFP Published: 2013-6-24 0:13:01

Greece's conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pledged on Sunday to work more closely with his socialist allies to prevent disputes that nearly brought down his government last week.

"We must learn to cooperate," Samaras told To Vima weekly in an interview. "But we are aware of the danger. We will not fall into this trap. We will agree where we must, and do so in a timely fashion."

Samaras plunged his coalition government into a week-long crisis on June 11, when he decided to shut down state broadcaster ERT to save money and meet job cuts agreed with Greece's EU-IMF creditors.

His socialist and moderate leftist partners vehemently opposed the move, and the Democratic Left bolted the government on Friday, leaving Samaras with a two-party coalition and a majority of just three deputies in parliament.

Samaras has vowed to complete the remaining three years of his term but he faces several reform challenges ahead, including additional layoffs, a sputtering privatization drive and possibly new taxes as of next year.

The continued agreement between the conservatives in Samaras's New Democracy party and the socialist Pasok has staved off the prospect of early elections, which would have been the third in the recession-hit country in a year.

"I do not want elections because the country cannot take elections right now," said Samaras.

The premier is expected to carry out a broad reshuffle by Tuesday to bring more socialists into government positions, including PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, according to reports. Samaras said on Sunday that Venizelos should play "an important role" in the new government.

Venizelos, a former finance minister who helped broker Greece's debt cutback in 2012, said in an article in the same newspaper that cooperating with Samaras was "a national necessity."

"A national necessity can and must operate as a powerful, just and honorable basis for cooperation," Venizelos wrote.

The two allies also face a challenge on how to deal with the ERT crisis.

ERT staff have been holding sit-ins at company headquarters in Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki for nearly two weeks to protest against the shutdown, which cost nearly 2,700 jobs.

Greece's top administrative court last week confirmed ERT's demise but told the government to restore public broadcasts through other means.

Posted in: Europe