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ATHENS, Greece: Greece’s new prime minister was expected to be released from hospital Monday, after undergoing eye surgery over the weekend that will prevent him from traveling to a critical European Union summit in Brussels this week.
Antonis Samaras was recovering from an operation to repair a detached retina, and was to leave hospital sometime in the afternoon. Once he has been discharged, his doctors have said he will have to remain at home for several days, although he can accept visits.
Samaras has appointed Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos to lead the Greek delegation at the June 28-29 summit.
The summit will be critical for Greece, coming just a week after its new coalition government was formed following months of political turmoil and two inconclusive national elections.
Samaras’ government, comprised of his New Democracy conservatives, their long-time socialist rivals PASOK and the small Democratic Left party, issued a policy statement on Saturday outlining changes it would like to make to the terms of its international bailout agreement with other EU countries and the International Monetary Fund. The changes include repealing certain tax hikes, freezing public sector layoffs and extending by two years the mid-2014 deadline for tough austerity measures.
Avramopoulos on Monday met with outgoing Finance Minister Giorgos Zanias, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Deputy Development Minister Notis Mitarakis and Alternative Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, as well as with the government spokesman, to discuss the preparations for the summit.
Zanias, who was a key negotiator for Greece’s bailout deal before being named to the post, continues to hold the foreign minister title as his replacement, Vassilis Rapanos, collapsed on Friday before being sworn in to office and has remained hospitalized ever since.
The private hospital at which Rapanos was being treated said over the weekend that his condition was improving, but it has not given any details on what he is suffering from. He was undergoing further tests, and it was unclear when he would be released.
The ill-health that struck the top echelons of Greece’s new coalition government just two days after it was formed has led to the postponement of a visit to Athens by the heads of the county’s debt inspectors known as the troika: the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF.
The heads of the delegation had been due to return to the Greek capital Monday. -- AP