Absolutely ridiculous! European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso allegedly appointed Lukas Papademos as Prime Minister of Greece right after the embarrassing meeting during the G20 summit in Cannes, when the EU partners decided to oust George Papandreou and his plan to hold a referendum without their consent.
According to a Financial Times report revealing the behind the scenes EU-intrigues in Cannes, Barroso had a hand in the creation of a three-party interim government led by ex-central banker Lucas Papademos in late 2011.
“It was a shift in body language that caught the attention of Mr Barroso, who had sat quietly through most of the fireworks. The European Commission president would later tell associates that the scene playing out in front of him was making him increasingly alarmed. On top of the loose talk of a Greek euro exit, which commission officials long believed would trigger uncontrollable market panic throughout southern Europe, the prospect of a month-long referendum campaign would have sown weeks of uncertainty – exactly what they were trying to avoid as Italian bond yields were rising to dangerous levels.
Unbeknown to Mr Sarkozy or Ms Merkel, Mr Barroso had called Mr Samaras, the Greek opposition leader, from his hotel before the meeting. He knew Mr Samaras was desperate to avoid the referendum.
Mr Samaras told Mr Barroso he was now willing to sign on to a national unity government between his New Democracy party and Pasok – something he had assiduously avoided for months in the hopes he could secure the premiership on his own.
‘We have to kill this referendum’
- José Manuel Barroso
Mr Barroso summoned his cabinet and other commission staff to his suite at the art deco Hotel Majestic Barrière to plot strategy. He decided he would not tell Mr Sarkozy or Ms Merkel of the conversation but according to people in the room, they began discussing names of possible technocrats to take over from Mr Papandreou in a national unity government. The first person to come to Mr Barroso’s lips was Lucas Papademos, the Greek economist who had left his post as vice-president of the ECB a year earlier. Within a week, Mr Papademos would have the job.
Watching Mr Venizelos assert himself hours later inside the Palais, Mr Barroso saw his opportunity. Mr Sarkozy brought the meeting to a close, rereading his six-point plan and telling Mr Papandreou to go back to Athens to “take a decision”, and Mr Barroso pulled Mr Venizelos aside.
“We have to kill this referendum,” Mr Barroso said. The finance minister agreed almost immediately. Killing the referendum idea would also be the end of Mr Papandreou.
After brief remarks to the press in which he said the referendum would be “a question of whether we want to remain in the eurozone”, Mr Papandreou headed back to Nice airport. In the car, he turned to Mr Venizelos and said that things had not gone as badly as he had feared. Mr Venizelos was incredulous. As Mr Papandreou slept on the flight home, Mr Venizelos, emboldened by Mr Barroso’s admonition, ordered an aide to write up a statement to be released when they landed, at 4.45am on Thursday. “Greece’s position within the euro area is a historic conquest of the country that cannot be put in doubt,” the statement read. “This acquis by the Greek people cannot depend on a referendum.”
Mr Papandreou’s referendum was dead. As was his premiership.” (Financial Times via here full article ).
At the same time, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble wanted Greece outside the euro zone while Chancellor Angela Merkel almost suffered a breakdown as she was torn apart.
Samaras’ coalition partner Evangelos Venizelos, a foreign minister in 2011, dismissed the FT report.
“Mr Barroso did not have the main role in the discussion and the process,” said the PASOK chief. “Whoever says this does not have an understanding of the international balance of power and of the roles that EU figures have.”
Venizelos also said that Papademos had not been first choice to become interim prime minister. Before he was sworn in on November 11, Parliament Speaker Filippos Petsalnikos and PASOK veteran Apostolos Kaklamanis had been suggested for the role, Venizelos claimed.
However, Venizelos defended the decision not to proceed with a referendum, which eurozone leaders insisted should only be on whether Greece should remain in the euro. The PASOK leader suggested that proceeding with the vote would have led to a flight of deposits. “Did anyone want the banks to collapse the next day and the country to default?” he said.
The issue is unlikely to be settled soon, though. PASOK MEP and former Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas wrote to Barroso on Tuesday to ask for his comments on the Financial Times article. He said a “very serious institutional and moral issue” had been raised by the report, which indicated that Barroso had intervened “in the domestic political affairs of a member state in order to overturn the democratically elected government of a European country.” (ekathimerini)
Fact is Papademos was PM November 2011-May 2011, Samaras and Venizelos formed the following government in June 2012 and the question remains: why should we hold elections if our partners and lenders decide who will govern the country?
Barroso contemplates about the next Greek PM
Of course, a biggest question is: how will Greece’s lenders deal with Alexis Tsipras should SYRIZA win the next parliamentary elections?
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