EU Warns Greece to Follow Bailout Terms, Coalition Talks Continue

Posted May 14th, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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European Union officials say they hope Greece will remain part of the eurozone but that it must live up to its commitments.

European Commission spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen made the comments Monday, as Greek President Karolos Papoulias called party leaders back for a final round of talks on forming a coalition government, after talks on Sunday failed.

Germany's Finance Ministry also warned Monday that following the terms and timetable of its reform program, agreed as part of an international bailout from Greece's European neighbors and the International Monetary Fund, is the “only and right” means by which Greece can recover.

Greece's political stability has been in doubt since an inconclusive election on May 6 left parliament divided between supporters and opponents of the $168.3-billion bailout.

Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Radical Left, or Syriza, party, which finished second in last week's parliamentary elections, has refused to take part in more talks to form a coalition government. He said on Sunday that those who support the deep spending cuts demanded by the European Union did not get the message of the voters.

The top three parties in last week's vote — the conservative New Democracy, Syriza and the socialist PASOK — were not able to find enough support to form a coalition on their own.

The president has until Thursday to broker a deal. If he fails, Greece will have to hold a new vote next month.

The New Democracy and PASOK parties could form a coalition if the small Democratic Left party decides to join them. But that party has so far refused to join unless Syriza does.

The previous Greek government — a New Democracy-PASOK coalition — agreed to demands from its international lenders for deep spending cuts in exchange for the country's second bailout in two years. The plan includes slashing government jobs, raising taxes and cutting pensions. Greeks have taken to the streets in sometimes violent protests against the bailout requirements.