New Greek prime minister outlines crisis policy

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s new three-party coalition government is ready to carry out long-delayed structural reforms, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Friday, as he acknowledged the deficit reduction program has gone off target.

Tackling the country’s deep recession, now in its fifth year, is a top priority, he said. To help the economy return to growth, some of the reforms demanded in Greece’s bailout loan agreements might take longer than currently planned, he added.

“It is true that the fiscal reform program has gone off target,” Samaras told Parliament during the presentation of his government’s policy platform.

Greece has been lagging in reforms demanded by its international creditors in return for billions of dollars in rescue loans. Reforms were thrown further off track by protracted political uncertainty that led to two national elections in the space of six weeks in May and June, and left no party with enough votes to govern alone.

Samaras formed a power-sharing government shortly after his conservative party came first in June 17 elections.

“What we ask is to fight the recession,” he said. He proposed delaying some austerity measures which are due to be completed within two years.

The government, made up of Samaras’ conservatives, their traditional rival socialists and a small left-wing party, “aims to pull the country out of the crisis, correct the mistakes that were made, make up for lost time,” Samaras said.

It will focus on selling state assets, such as the country’s railway company, and liberalizing the energy market.

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