There is mounting speculation that before he is even formally sworn in, the highly regarded Rapanos may be forced to turn down the job of finance minister because of frail health. "It will be decided in the coming days whether he will stay on in the role," Flash radio announced.
The 65-year-old technocrat, the former head of the National Bank of Greece, the country's biggest lender, was taken to hospital after collapsing on Friday. It is uncertain when he will be released although doctors say it "could be tomorrow". The Canadian-trained economist, who has long battled health problems, spent the weekend undergoing tests after complaining of acute abdominal pain and dizziness.
No one is denying that the post of Greek finance minister is possibly the worst job on the continent of Europe. With the economy shrinking for a fifth straight year, a record 1.2 million Greeks out of work and the easing of Greece's latest EU-IMF sponsored bailout agreement now seen as vital if the debt-choked country is to get out of its economic death spiral, the workload, both at home and abroad, could not be greater.
"He is excellent, the perfect choice but after this latest incident the big question is will he be able to take on such a heavy responsibility?" said one insider who has long known Rapanos. "It is far from clear whether doctors will give him the OK to travel. There are a lot of open questions as to whether he will take the job."
Samaras will likely be forced to pronounce on the issue in the coming days. The 61-year-old premier, who has been put in the position of having to confer with senior aides at his own hospital bedside, is expected to be released from the clinic where he underwent emergency eye surgery. But he, too, is under strict orders to keep movement to a minimum for at least a week.
With the two men effectively bed-bound, the Greek government has been thrown into disarray as to who should represent the crisis-hit country at the crucial two-day EU summit that begins in Brussels on Thursday. Senior sources say the leaders of the coalition's two junior partners – the socialist Pasok and small Democratic Left – may well attend in addition to a four-strong team lead by the new foreign minister.
Pasok leader Evangelos Venizelos, who was finance minister when the €130bn (£104bn) rescue package was agreed, has called renegotiation of the deal a "national priority" with Athens announcing a list of steps to soften the impact of accord over the weekend. "These unexpected illnesses couldn't come at a worse time. We need the strongest team possible to revise the memorandum," said one government source.
The heat is already on. Leading EU figures, starting with the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, have announced that Greece is way off-track in its reform programme.
At the very least, Greek officials say they want to extend the timeframe in which the country is allowed to meet fiscal targets so that spending cuts and structural reforms can be relaxed. Athens wants another two years, taking the programme through to 2016. EU partners are already saying the extension will be costly and likely amount to creditors being forced to cough up as much as €20bn in extra funds.
Postponement of an inspection tour by troika monitors – until early July – exacerbated the sense in Athens on Monday that economic recovery of the eurozone's weakest link is off course and likely to remain so for some time yet. On the basis of their findings, troika officials from the EU, ECB and IMF will decide whether Greece is deserving of its next injection of cash. Public coffers are set to dry up completely by mid-July.
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