Syriza will attend talks hosted by the president to form a government of technocrats as a way out of the country's political impasse. But they are not likely to alter their opposition on Greece's tough bailout terms.
The leadership of Greece's anti-austerity party, Syriza, on Monday said it would attend a meeting that President Carolos Papoulias has called in a last-ditch attempt to form a government in the hope of avoiding a second general election in a matter of weeks. But Syriza insists it will not move on its anti-bailout stance.
Earlier on Monday, the president had proposed the formation of a government of technocrats as a way out of the country's political impasse. Socialist Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos said the talks to agree on a government of "distinguished and non-political figures" would be held on Tuesday, with the talks set for 2 p.m. local time.
"We will attend the meeting," said Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis. "But we are sticking to our position. We don't want to consent to any kind of bailout policies even if they are implemented by non-political personalities."
"The fact that it's going to be implemented by non-political people doesn't change the purpose of this (proposed) government, which is to implement the bailout."
Papoulias presented the plan during a meeting with the leaders of Pasok, the conservative New Democracy party and the Democratic Left.
"Everyone must take their responsibilities," New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras said. "Our mandate all together is to build a government."
Refusal to endorse austerity
Despite now saying they will come to the negotiating table, Syriza there are few signs that the party will compromise on its anti-austerity stance.
"They are looking for an accomplice to continue their catastrophic work? We will not help them," Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis told Mega television after the most recent talks broke down.
Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras, wants Greece to either reject completely or drastically renegotiate the terms of the two international bailout deals for the country.
Snap elections loom large
If the president is unable to get the parties to agree to the formation of a government of technocrats, there may be no avoiding a second snap election next month.
Opinion polls suggest that June elections could see Greeks vote in a government that would refuse to meet the country's obligations that Athens agreed to in return for its international bailouts. This could lead to the country becoming insolvent within a matter of weeks, which could in turn lead to its departure from the eurozone.
The continuing uncertainty helped fuel a sell-off on European stock markets, pushing them to a four-and-a-half-month low on Monday. The stock exchanges in Frankfurt and London closed down by almost two percent on Monday, while the CAQ 40 in Paris was down by just over two percent.
Meanwhile, there were signs that the patience of Greece's European partners was wearing thin.
"This is not about generosity towards Greece; it's about what is serious, what will convince the markets," German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told reporters as he arrived for a meeting in Brussels on Monday.
pfd,sej/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)