Greek gov't moves forward determined, says PM ahead of cabinet reshuffle

2013-06-23 09:00:12 GMT2013-06-23 17:00:12(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

ATHENS, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Greece's government moves forward determined to continue efforts to address the debt crisis, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in an interview with a local Sunday newspaper, ahead of a cabinet reshuffle expected this week.

"The government had a difficult time over the past few days, but stood on its feet and continues with renewed determination," he told "Vima" (The Tribune), shortly after the Democratic Left party (DIMAR) left the tripartite coalition on Friday over a row regarding the closure of the national broadcaster ERT.

The government crisis ignited scenarios of early elections for a few hours, but the conservative Premier and socialist PASOK party chief Evangelos Venizelos dismissed them, vowing to move forward so that Greece does not face the risk of political uncertainty which could derail policies introduced to overcome the financial crisis.

The two leaders are due to meet later on Sunday or Monday, according to sources, to discuss the government's shake up after the resignations of DIMAR's ministers and update the coalition agreement which was reached after last year's general elections.

The New Democracy party of Samaras and PASOK hold a slim 153 seat majority in the 300 member strong parliament.

Local analysts expect that they will have the backing of several independent legislators in key votes regarding the implementation of the austerity and reform program signed with international lenders three years ago.

Speaking to "Vima", the Premier expressed confidence that "there will be no problems" in ongoing negotiations with European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders over the next steps Athens needs to make to secure further bailout aid under deals to avert a meltdown.

Troika auditors are expected back to the Greek capital in early July to finish a review of Greece's fiscal adjustment program before the release of more funds. On the agenda are delays in pledged mass dismissals of civil servants, the privatization program and ways to fill a possible funding gap in 2014.

The crisis over ERT's shutdown, the first major mass cuts of civil service jobs under a law ratified by the Greek parliament in spring, highlighted the challenges lining ahead.

Samaras' decision to close down the state television and radio broadcaster overnight on June 11 and replace it with a new organization on reduced staff by September was met with an outcry by trade unions, political parties and jolted the government.

Samara insists that ERT had become a characteristic example of waste of funds and corruption and appears determined to proceed with the plan for its overhaul and the layoffs of up to 15,000 civil servants by 2015.

The majority of Greek citizens support him, according to the results of an opinion survey released during the weekend. About 54.4 percent of respondents in the poll conducted by Rass polling firm for newspaper "Typos tis Kyriakis" (Sunday's Press), agree with the layoffs in the public sector.

Regarding the broadcaster's fate, 72.2 percent back its reopening on reduced staff. Meanwhile, the 2,700 sacked ERT employees continue the occupation of the broadcaster's headquarters in Athens and protest rallies, refusing the government's call to evacuate the premises and facilitate the restructuring process.

Most Greeks (61.8 percent) do not want snap elections, according to the survey. In such a case, ND would lead marginally by 24.8 percent of votes compared to 23.7 percent the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) would garner.

The far-Right Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party would rank third with 8.1 percent, followed by the Communist party with 4.7 percent and the right Independent Greeks party with 4.1 percent.

According to the survey, PASOK would receive 4 percent and DIMAR 3 percent, right on the threshold necessary to enter the assembly.

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