France's president and Germany's chancellor talk with Greece's new leader
Sarkozy and Merkel voice an "urgent need" for Greece to pass a bailout package
A statement from Sarkozy says Greece's next aid payment may be withheld, without action
A day after being sworn in as Greece’s new prime minister, Lucas Papademos talked Saturday with the leaders of France and Germany about efforts to address his nation’s continuing economic woes – including negative ramifications if certain moves aren’t made soon.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel both congratulated Papademos on his ascension when they talked with him on Saturday afternoon, according to a statement from Sarkozy’s office.
Sarkozy and Merkel then expressed an “urgent need” for Greece’s new leader to ensure that his country adheres to its past commitments, including implementation of an Oct. 27 bailout package brokered between former Prime Minister George Papandreou and other European leaders.
Greece will not get its next aid payment until “further steps (are) taken,” the statement from Sarkozy’s office said. Those funds – tied to a separate 2010 deal – are essential to ensure that Greece does not default on its debts in the next few weeks.
Papademos has said that ratifying the bailout deal and implementing austerity measures will be the priority for his government.
Sarkozy and Merkel also talked independently about various developments in the eurozone, including getting prepared to “accelerate the full implementation of the October 27 agreement,” the French leader’s communique said. The two also reaffirmed their determination to defend the euro.
Papademos, a former banker and European Central Bank vice president, became his country’s interim prime minister Friday after several days of political wrangling.
His ministers were also sworn in at a ceremony attended by the president and the head of the Greek Orthodox Church.
A vote of confidence in the new government is expected after debate in the Greek Parliament on Monday. The coalition will then face the challenge of implementing the aforementioned bailout package and austerity measures agreed to with European leaders last month.
The drama in Greece has shaken international markets because investors were afraid the new bailout deal – which has stringent austerity measures attached – might not be implemented.
Papademos previously has stressed Greece’s commitment to the euro, saying its membership in the eurozone, the 17 nations that use the euro as currency, was a guarantee of financial stability.