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Greek Conservative Leader Sworn In As PM

  • RFE/RL

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras (file photo)

New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras (file photo)

The leader of Greece's conservative New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, has been sworn in as the country's new prime minister.

Samaras will lead a new government tasked with implementing austerity reforms and guiding the country out of its debt crisis.

Samaras, the fourth prime minister Greece has had in eight months, told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony, "we will do everything we can to take the country out of the crisis."

New Democracy -- which won the most votes in the June 17 parliamentary elections but not enough to govern alone -- has held three days of talks on forming a coalition with the socialist PASOK and the Democratic Left party.

The make-up of the new government is expected to be announced later on June 20.

All three parties say they broadly support Greece's multibillion-euro loan agreements with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

But PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos indicated the coalition would still attempt to renegotiate some of the terms of the EU bailout package Greece has received.

"New Democracy, PASOK, and Democratic Left have taken on the burden of responsibility to renegotiate the bailout agreement and [the job] of exiting Greece from the crisis," Venizelos said.

EU countries have generally welcomed the results of Greece's parliamentary elections, seeing the victory of the New Democracy party as a sign the country would stay in the eurozone.

The formation of a government was in itself a hopeful sign for many of the country's creditors.

But for many Greeks the future is far from certain, as unemployment remains over 20 percent and among young people it is hovering around 50 percent.

Parties like the ultraleftist Syriza, which supports a drastic change in the terms of the EU bailout package for Greece, did well in the elections, showing there is still strong support among many Greeks for opposing what many in the country see as EU-imposed austerity conditions.

Germany is seen as holding the purse strings for Greece's bailout package and Chancellor Angela Merkel on June 20 invited new Prime Minister Samaras to Berlin for talks.

With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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