The FINANCIAL -- Greek President Carolos Papoulias will attend a key EU summit this week
as newly elected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will be recovering from
eye surgery after leaving hospital on Monday, officials said.
The Greek delegation at the summit is expected to outline its plan to revise the terms of an austerity-centred EU-IMF bailout deal, even though chief paymaster Germany already signalled no decision is expected at the meeting.
Samaras, 61, a former foreign minister who was only sworn in last week after his conservative New Democracy party won elections on June 17, has been told to stay at home for at least a week to recover from the operation on his retina.
State-run Athens news agency ANA said Samaras would be able to coordinate government policy and hold talks with ministers while recovering at home.
Incoming Finance Minister Vassilis Rapanos was also hospitalised with stomach pains last week and is not expected to be discharged before Tuesday.
Samaras's absence has delayed the holding of a formal vote of confidence in parliament for the new three-party coalition that is now expected next Monday.
Rapanos can also not be officially sworn in without Samaras present.
"Rapanos told Samaras that this is a chronic situation that he has learned to live with, and that he can carry out his duties," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou said on Flash Radio, while denying any reversal of the nomination.
Greek stock meanwhile closed down 6.84 percent in line with declines on other European markets amid uncertainty over the outcome of the summit.
Bank shares were hit particularly hard, with Alpha losing 18.4 percent.
At the EU summit on Thursday and Friday, Greece intends to request a two-year extension on a fiscal adjustment plan adopted in return for billions of euros in loans, as well as a halt in thousands of planned civil service layoffs.
The new government, which emerged from elections in which a quarter of the vote went to a radical leftist anti-austerity party, has also said it wants to reverse a minimum-wage cut and recent labour reforms that facilitated layoffs.
According to EUbusiness, the aim would be to meet fiscal goals "without further cuts to salaries, pensions and public investment" or new taxes, a government policy plan said.
But a German government spokesman warned against hopes of a deal and several European leaders have signalled that a limited time extension could be negotiated without any major revisions in the substance of the agreement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular news conference that no decision could be taken until an international team of auditors from the IMF, EU and European Central Bank , known as the troika, had assessed the state of Greece's economy.
"The troika has to go to Athens. They have to see where the programme is and then report to the eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund. Then we will speak about how the programme should continue," Seibert said.
"I think all our European partners will stick to this procedure. So do not expect any decision on Greece at the European council," he said.
A scheduled visit by EU-IMF auditors originally set for Monday has been postponed as a result of the health problems of Samaras and Rapanos.
Samaras's coalition partners, the leaders of the socialist and moderate leftists, meanwhile said they would soon accompany the prime minister on a tour of European capitals to renegotiate the country's bailout terms.
"Immediately after the PM's recovery, we will travel together to Brussels and all of Europe to negotiate," Fotis Kouvelis, head of the Democratic Left party, said after a meeting with socialist Pasok party leader Evangelos Venizelos.
Greece has been forced to seek bailouts twice from the EU-IMF-ECB troika of creditors, first for 110 billion euros in 2010 and then for 130 billion euros earlier this year. It has also had a 107-billion-euro private debt write-off.