Europe is 'in danger', says Greek president

AFP , Thursday 21 Jul 2011

Greek President Carolos Papoulias warns of danger as an emergency eurozone meeting began to fight the Greek debt crisis which is threatening the eurozone

Karolos Papoulias
Greek President Karolos Papoulias (Photo: AP)

"I hope the Europeans can understand that Europe is in danger, that they cannot stifle Europe's historic role, and to take a decision that supports Europe's weakest," Papoulias said during a meeting with Maltese parliament speaker Michael Frendo.

"Our fortunes are shared," the 82-year-old president said, quoting ancient Greek orator Isocrates.

European leaders began an emergency eurozone summit in Brussels on Thursday to discuss a new bailout deal for Greece amid a spreading eurozone debt crisis.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is attending the talks and officials said that two key bankers -- Bank of Greece governor George Provopoulos and Vassilis Rapanos, head of main lender National Bank (NBG) -- were also to participate.

Rapanos was invited to join the talks as he also chairs the Hellenic Bank Association, an NBG press officer told AFP.

Bank executives are expected to support some sort of participation by private creditors in a second rescue plan for Athens once political proposals have been worked out.

A draft agreement was put on the table for the 17 leaders following an 11th hour deal reached between the eurozone's two powerbrokers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a European diplomat said.

The leaders had dropped the idea of a bank tax to help fund a second Greek bailout, but they opened the door to German calls for private sector involvement, even at the risk of triggering a default, the diplomat said.

Germany, backed by the Netherlands and Finland, had been at odds with the European Central Bank and Paris over Merkel's demands for private investors to shoulder some of the bill for the new Greek rescue, one year after a 110-billion-euro ($156-billion) bailout.

There are concerns that any change to the terms of outstanding Greek sovereign bonds could prompt rating agencies to declare Athens in default, with potentially dramatic domino consequences.

Greece has denied seeking such an option, and has said recently it rejects any form of default..

"We have not accepted something like that. The Greek government has never said it accepts a solution that will cause a selective default," Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in an interview with Skai TV this week.

The European diplomat said the draft deal included a possible voluntary agreement by banks effectively to extend long-term repayments of Greek bonds or to swap bonds around to restructure its debt.

The goal is to reduce a debt load that has reached 350 billion euros

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