Leaders seek to cultivate EU ties
Samaras, Venizelos head to Brussels to seek talks with Europe’s movers and shakers
The leader of conservative New Democracy, Antonis Samaras, is expected to seek out European leaders for pivotal talks in Brussels on Wednesday in a bid to outdo Socialist PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who met with French President Francois Hollande in Paris on Tuesday, and the leader of leftist SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, who late on Tuesday concluded two days of networking in Paris and Berlin ahead of general elections on June 17.
Among the officials Samaras aims to corner for talks, apart from fellow members of the European People’s Party, are European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, sources said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the conservative leader had described Tsipras as ‘‘naive and dangerous’’ for warning the new French president to honor anti-austerity pledges made before his election.
‘‘At a time that Greece is seeking foreign alliances, Mr Tsipras, with unbelievable arrogance, is destroying them and leading our country to the isolation that he and SYRIZA’s constituent parts are dreaming of,’’ Samaras said.
Socialist leader Venizelos, who met with Hollande in Paris on Tuesday in a visit that took the Greek press by surprise, also indirectly criticized Tsipras, remarking: “It is not enough to say that you are pro-euro and pro-EU.
When your proposals are irrational, demagogic, irresponsible, unsubstantiated, you cannot convince the international community, you cannot convince governments, parliaments, parties, other peoples,” he said.
Hollande, for his part, reportedly expressed his support for Venizelos’s declared efforts to seek to revise some aspects of Greece’s debt deal with foreign creditors. The Socialist chief presented a six-point plan for renegotiation - no more wage and pension cuts, the safeguarding of collective labor contracts, liquidity for banks, aid for infrastructure works, growth-boosting measures and youth unemployment programs. The French president also sought an overview of the state of the Greek economy from Venizelos, formerly finance minister.
The Socialist chief will be in Brussels on Wednesday for talks with his European counterparts.
Caretaker Prime Minister Panayiotis Pikrammenos is also due in the Belgian capital for a EU summit. He is expected to push for initiatives to boost growth in Greece’s moribund economy and to present his peers with evidence of the country’s progress in enforcing the debt deal.
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