The president of debt-laden Greece Karolos Papoulias and the Greek delegation flew to EU Summit in Brussels using economy class on Wednesday afternoon. The 83-year-old president takes the burden of travelling ‘stuck’ in a 3-seat row, in order to set an example of frugality when the majority of the Greeks suffer under strict austerity. Unfortunately, as the decision that the President would fly to EU Summit instead of PM Samaras was last minute, the Greek delegation would not take advantage of special fares. His two-way ticket is estimated to cost 500-600 euro.
The president will travel economy class to a European Union summit this week, his office said on Wednesday.
Leaders of the 27-nation EU meet in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit to be dominated by the euro zone΄s debt crisis.
A source familiar with the travel plans of the Greek delegation, led by 83-year-old President Karolos Papoulias, said they would travel economy on a regular Aegean Airlines flight to Brussels.
The show of frugality follows a 30-percent pay cut for ministers in the new ruling coalition – a response to public anger over government waste and privilege as ordinary Greeks bear the brunt of punishing cuts demanded by the EU and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a rescue.
The president has already given up his 280,000 euro ($350,000) salary.
“He΄s flying Aegean Airways, economy class, to set an example,” a presidential aide told Reuters.
Papoulias, whose post is mainly ceremonial, is going to Brussels only because the new Greek government was struck by two medical emergencies shortly after it was formed last week. Papoulias will stand in for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, 22 years his junior, who is recovering from eye surgery.
Samaras΄s first choice for finance minister, Vassilis Rapanos, resigned within days of his appointment after being taken to hospital with abdominal pain, nausea and dizziness. Outgoing Finance Minister George Zanias will be part of the delegation with Papoulias.
A former resistance fighter against the military junta that ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974, Papoulias said in February he was giving up his salary in solidarity with the Greek people as lawmakers voted deep cuts to wages, pensions and jobs as the price of a bailout worth 130 billion euros (Capital.gr)