26 Jun 2012

Greek finance minister resigns

6:12 am on 26 June 2012

Greece's new finance minister has resigned because of ill health, throwing the government's drive to soften the terms of an international bailout into confusion.

Vassilis Rapanos, 64, chairman of the National Bank of Greece, was rushed to hospital on Friday, before he could be sworn in, complaining of abdominal pain, nausea and dizziness. Greek media said he had a history of ill-health.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has himself only just emerged from hospital after undergoing eye surgery to repair a damaged retina.

Both he and Mr Rapanos had already said they would not be able to attend a June 28-29 European summit in Brussels.

The medical problems of the Prime Minister and Mr Rapanos had also forced a postponement of the first meeting between the new government and Greece's "troika" of international lenders, originally scheduled for Monday.

The new government, formed after the second election in a month, faces a rocky road in responding to huge domestic opposition to a harsh international bailout in the face of steadfast European opposition to any watering down of its terms, Reuters reports.

Mr Samaras's government, an alliance of right and left that emerged from the June 17 election, has promised it will soften the punishing terms of a bailout saving Greece from bankruptcy in exchange for deep austerity measures. Germany has strongly rejected major concessions.