Athens.- Greece hoped for a good outcome and the right decisions at the European Council on March 25 but would deal with the final result without fear, relying on its own powers, Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed in Parliament on Friday. Replying to a question posed by Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis, he warned against succumbing to pessimism that “leads to resignation”.
Concerning developments in North Africa, including the violence in Libya, he underlined that Greece will be an active presence and a “pole of stability” in the efforts for the ‘day after’ in the region.
The Greek prime minister stressed that the European Union must adopt a position concerning its presence in the region and its relations with the Arab world, while also preparing for the possibility of an energy crisis due to the uprisings erupting in the Middle East and North Africa.
Concerning criticism voiced by Karatzaferis on economic issues, Papandreou stressed that the government was waging battles both within Greece and abroad against the accumulated debt and that it would be a “difficult transition but to a different Greece”.
The prime minister also confirmed the government’s political willingness to support the domestic defence industry in reply to another question by Karatzaferis, who stressed the country’s unusually high spending on defence procurements had made a large contribution to its excessive debt burden and highlighted the need to have a defence industry in order to also help Greece’s diplomacy.
Papandreou said the government’s goal was to establish public control with full transparency of the defence industry and the required partnerships. While agreeing that the local defence industry had to be supported and modernised, he also pointed out that the need to make it competitive given its accumulated debts of two billion euro.
The prime minister said the government was currently promoting Greece’s defence industry and reported interest in Hellenic Defence Systems. He also stressed that the government wanted “growth and not parasitic prospects, without mediations and middle-men, with transparency and with each decision passing inspection by Parliament”.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, commenting on Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou’s interview on Thursday, called on the latter to resign.
“Today, Mr. G. Papaconstantinou announces in advance new measures, that are six times the cutbacks in salaries and pensions that took place in 2010. He is doing all-according to his own statement- that constitute proof of failure,” Mihelakis said.
Mihelakis added: “after this, what does he intend to do? Can he still remain in his position?”, raising once again the question of Papaconstantinou remaining in the government.
A comment by the press office of the Communist Party of Greece’s (KKE) Central Committee on the European Commission’s report and the interview by Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou, said “the Commission’s report proves that the government has committed itself to the further drastic decrease of salaries, the ‘deregulation of the labour mrket’, meaning the generalisation of temporary-flexible labour, the even greater curbing of expenditures in Health and the remaining social expenditures, for new anti-insurance measures, new tax burdens, the sellout of public wealth and new privatisations and dismissals.”
The comment concluded by stressing that “no importance to what the governmenrt says, through Mr. Papaconstantinou. The organised popular disobedience and counter-attack is a one-way path for repelling and reversing the barbaric anti-popular policy.”
Opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) president George Karatzaferis on Friday accused Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou of “lacking experience and knowledge of the real market”, calling on the prime minister to proceed with his replacement.
Speaking to private television in Athens, Karatzaferis stated that under the present circumstances a finance minister should have “substantive knowledge of the market and its operation”, stressing that “the decisions made so far were hasty”.
The LA.OS leader repeated that the country will be led to snap elections because the government is faced with a dead end.