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

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership 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.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs