Greek conservative Samaras: We must stay in euro

Greek conservative Samaras: We must stay in euro

By ELENA BECATOROS
Associated Press
ATHENS, Greece
Proposals by Greece’s radical left party to withdraw from the international bailout commitments will lead to a “certain and immediate” catastrophe, Greece’s conservative leader said Wednesday.

Antonis Samaras’s conservative party came first in Sunday’s election but he has already given up the task of uniting Greece’s bickering parties to Alexis Tsipras, head of the radical left party. Both are meeting later Wednesday as part of Tsipras’ efforts to create a new coalition government after the vote produced no clear winner.

If no solution to the political impasse can be found, then new elections will have to be held.

On Tuesday, Tsipras said Greece should pull out of its bailout commitments, saying the financial pain hitting ordinary Greeks has been too high. He insisted Sunday’s election results in which the two main parties _ Samaras’ New Democracy and the socialist PASOK _ saw their support slashed and voters flock to smaller parties on the right and left meant there was no longer popular support for the bailout.

Tsipras’s comments flew in the face of EU leaders’ insistence on fiscal discipline and sent the Greek stock market tumbling.

Samaras stressed it was imperative for the country to remain in the euro. Although he has called for the bailout terms to be renegotiated, he said pulling out completely would be disastrous.

Samaras called Tsipras’ statements irresponsible and urged him to retract them.

Given the fact that Samaras controls 108 of parliament’s 300 seats, Tsipras, whose party won 52 seats, cannot form a government without Samaras’ support.

Greece has depended on rescue loans from its European partners and the International Monetary Fund since May 2010, after decades of profligate state spending and false accounting priced it out of money-lending markets.

To secure the bailouts, Athens took a hatchet to pensions, salaries, health care and pretty much everything else, while repeatedly raising taxes. But more than two years of austerity have left the economy deep in recession and unemployment at a record high 21 percent.

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