Greek leaders call in sick as lenders wait

Marion Dakers
GREECE’S paymasters will have to wait to meet the embattled Eurozone nation’s latest leaders, after the new Prime Minister and incoming finance minister were both hospitalised within days of winning last week’s election.

With Prime Minister Antonis Samaras resting following an eye operation and finance minister Vassilis Rapanos stable in hospital with a mystery illness, representatives for the troika of lenders have called off a trip to Athens to discuss Greece’s progress.

Samaras’s government, formed last week, has won “a few days” of extra time to prepare for the crucial meeting with the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, one EU official said.

Greece’s conservative-led coalition has pledged to renegotiate the painful terms of country’s €130bn financial lifeline, which is keeping the country from bankruptcy but at the cost of harsh economic discipline.

Samaras is also expected to miss an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, where European leaders had been hoping to remind Greece of its bailout obligations.

Outgoing finance minister Georgios Zanias will step in to represent Greece at the summit. His successor is yet to be sworn in.

The EU leaders that do attend will also discuss specific steps towards a cross-border banking union, closer fiscal integration and the possibility of a debt redemption fund, according to a document prepared for the meeting.