Greek Political Impasse Deepens After Coalition Talks Fail

ATHENS (TIP): Greece’s coalition leaders failed to agree to on how to resume state television broadcasts during their third round of talks this week, deepening a nine-day impasse that has renewed fears of political instability in the country. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had appeared close to a compromise earlier this week with his two leftist coalition partners over the sudden closure of the ERT state broadcaster, until the three party talks collapsed again on June 20.

The leader of the smallest party in the coalition, Fotis Kouvelis of the Democratic Left, attacked Samaras for failing to comply with a court ruling ordering ERT back on air and rejecting his proposal for a reformed broadcaster. “No common ground was reached at the political leaders’ meeting with regards to the issue of ERT,” Kouvelis said. Democratic Left party officials were due to meet on Friday morning to discuss their stance on the issue, officials said.

The leader of the other junior coalition partner, Evangelos Venizelos, warned the country’s ruling coalition was in trouble and called on Kouvelis to stay in the government.”The situation for the country, the economy and its citizens is especially grave,” said Venizelos, who heads PASOK, the second-biggest party in the government.”We want the government to continue as a threeparty government and we are asking Democratic Left to participate in re-establishing cooperation.”Centre-right leader Samaras has ruled in fragile coalition with the two centre-left parties since coming to power a year ago.

The latest crisis was sparked by Samaras abruptly yanking ERT off air last week, triggering an outcry from his allies, unions and journalists. ERT remains off air despite a court ruling on Monday ordering it back on. Samaras wants a transitional broadcaster run by only a few staff that will air a few ready-made programmes while his allies want ERT to reopen exactly as it was before until the smaller version is launched. Venizelos said Samaras had accepted a proposal to resume public broadcasts and re-hire about 2,000 workers, but that the junior partners were not satisfied. “There have been steps to repair this but we are not fully satisfied,” he said.

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