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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.