New Greek PM,finance minister in hospital

Greece's new PM and FM were both in hospitals,being treated for different ailments less than three days after govt. was formed.

Written by Agencies | Athens,greece | Published:June 23, 2012 2:56 pm

Greece’s new prime minister and finance minister were both in hospitals Saturday,being treated for different ailments less than three days after a government was formed in the crisis-struck country.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras,61,was undergoing eye surgery to repair the early stages of a detached retina discovered during what his office said was a routine eye test on Friday. The surgery was expected to last an hour,and a hospital announcement on his condition was to be issued at about mid-day.

Although Samaras returned to his office Friday afternoon after his eye check,a meeting of his conservative party’s newly elected deputies that had been planned for Friday night was canceled.

Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos,65,remained in a private clinic after being rushed to hospital Friday suffering from intense abdominal pain,nausea,dizziness,sweating and weakness. The cause of his symptoms was not immediately clear,and he was undergoing tests.

Rapanos,who was named to the post Thursday,has not been sworn in to office yet. His swearing in ceremony had been scheduled for Friday evening,but was postponed due to his illness.

The hospital said on Friday that his condition had stabilized but that he would remain there for further tests. It was unclear how long he would need to be hospitalized.

Samaras was sworn in as Greece’s fourth prime minister in eight months Wednesday,ending a protracted political crisis that had raised fears of Greece being forced to leave the eurozone and spreading the financial crisis across Europe.

His New Democracy party came first in June 17 elections,but without enough votes to form a government on its own. After three days of negotiations,he formed a coalition government with long-time socialist PASOK party rivals,and the small Democratic Left party.

The government has pledged to keep Greece within Europe’s joint currency and broadly stick to the terms of its international bailout from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund. But it has said it will seek to renegotiate some of the conditions of its rescue loans.

Greece has been dependent on billions of euros of rescue loans since May 2010,after it became locked out of the international borrowing market by sky-high interest rates following years of profligate spending and poor fiscal management.

In return,it imposed harsh austerity measures,including slashing spending on everything from healthcare to education,cutting salaries and pensions and repeatedly raising taxes.

But it has still struggled to meet its fiscal targets,and the measures have plunged the country into a deep recession,now in its fifth year,and have sent unemployment soaring to above 22 percent.

Samaras faces his first test to his pledges to renegotiate some of the bailout terms next week,when he is due to go to Brussels for a European Union summit on June 28-29.

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