News / Europe

Greek Prime Minister to Step Down, Unity Government to be Formed

Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou waves to journalists while exiting the Presidential Palace after a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and opposition leader Antonis Samaras, in Athens Sunday, Nov. 6 2011.
Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou waves to journalists while exiting the Presidential Palace after a meeting with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and opposition leader Antonis Samaras, in Athens Sunday, Nov. 6 2011.

Political leaders in Greece reached an agreement Sunday night to form a new unity government, a move that will allow the debt-ridden country to secure a European Union bailout.

In an effort to break the political deadlock, Greek President Karolos Papoulias hosted late, closed-door talks between Prime Minister George Papandreou and opposition leader Antonis Samaras.

Throngs of reporters outside the gates of the presidential palace in Athens were on hand when word came a few hours later.

Greek Prime Minister Papandreou took power in 2009 with promises to create jobs, help the poor and pump life into a sagging economy. Instead, he found himself fighting to keep the country from sinking into bankruptcy and taking the entire global economy down with it.

Mr. Papandreou's grandfather, George, and his father Andreas, also were Greek prime ministers who helped shape contemporary Greek history.

The current prime minister was born in 1952 in the midwestern U.S. city of St. Paul, Minnesota. Andreas Papandreou had fled there to escape a severe right-wing Greek dictatorship in the late 1930s.

George Papandreou studied in the United States, Canada and Sweden before moving to Greece when democracy returned in 1974. He followed his family into the Socialist Party, winning a seat in parliament and holding several government posts, including foreign minister and party leader.

He became prime minister when the Socialists won the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Reporters from Greek national media read the statement from the president's office.

The statement said Mr. Papandreou and New Democracy party leader Antonis Samaras had reached a preliminary agreement to form an interim government, and that Mr. Papandreou will not lead the new government.

The statement added that the two men are expected to meet again on Monday to discuss details of the plan, including who will lead the government to early elections.

Earlier Sunday, Samaras said the prime minister had to step aside. "He [i.e., Mr. Papandreou] is obstructing any solution.  And if he does not resign, he does not allow the constitution to operate properly.  So if he does resign, then things will go as they have to," he said.

Mr. Papandreou agreed to step aside as long as Athens could secure a loan that would help Greece avoid bankruptcy.  The nation's finance minister has said Greece needs $11 billion in bailout funds in the coming weeks to stay afloat.

Greek reaction to Sunday's developments are mixed.

A 22-year-old Athens man said he is not optimistic about his country's future, while a 33-year-old woman said she is hopeful about the political agreement. "Yes, I do feel positive.  If they finally did it, then I do feel positive because the country has to be represented in a unanimous way," she said.

The interim government is expected to get the Greek parliament and cabinet to accept the terms of a new European Union agreement, which requires Greece to raise taxes and make deeper cuts in government spending.

Late last month, Eurozone nations agreed to provide Greece with additional loans.  Mr. Papandreou then announced that he wanted to put the debt deal to a referendum.  He later withdrew the plan.

Eurozone finance ministers are set to meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss plans to release billions of dollars in bailout funds to Greece.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid