Do EU summits need a health warning?

Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:22pm EDT
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By Dina Kyriakidou

ATHENS (Reuters) - In the small hours of Thursday, George Papandreou thanked his aides for helping clinch a second bailout deal for debt-ridden Greece, and admitted the strain had almost killed one of them.

"Some were under such pressure that they needed medical attention. I see George Zanias, thankfully with us. But George Glynos was unable to join us after suffering a heart attack," Papandreou told a news conference in Brussels after an 11-hour EU summit.

Like many of their EU counterparts, Greek officials have worked punishing hours under enormous stress for months. The debt crisis has taken its toll not only on their country and the euro, but on their health.

Government officials said Greece's chief economic adviser, Zanias, developed very high blood pressure during Sunday's summit and was ordered to stay in his room all day Monday. Papandreou's aide Glynos suffered a heart attack in Athens after Sunday's summit and missed Wednesday's meeting.

"Your body revolts. You go from a plane to meeting after meeting with little sleep, you drink too much coffee and you are forced to eat bad food. It's an unnatural life and there comes a point when we'll all pay for it," said a Greek Finance Ministry official who did not want to be named.

While leaders dined on giant shrimp with aubergines followed by roast turbot and a trio of sorbets, for the delegations, usually waiting anxiously to be briefed on a different floor, the dining is not as exciting.

"The food is terrible. You eat sandwiches and junk food all day. I got really sick from it Sunday," said one Greek delegate who declined to be named.


<p>Greece's Prime Minister George Papandreou (C) arrives at a news conference at the end of a euro zone summit in Brussels, October 27, 2011. REUTERS/Yves Herman</p>