Greece sparked crisis but was not cause, ex pm says

In a commentary published in The Guardian on Friday, Greece’s former socialist premier Costas Simitis said the country was not responsible for the euro zone crisis but was merely the spark that exposed the inherent flaws within the union.

“Greece sparked the eurozone crisis but was not its cause,” Simitis wrote in a joint commentary with Yannis Stournaras, director of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), an Athens-based think tank.

“The cause lies in the fact that the eurozone is a fully fledged monetary union but an incomplete economic and fiscal union of member states with different structures: the more mature economies of the European north and the less mature ones of the European south,» he wrote.

The former premier, who served from 1996 to 2004, noted that the public debt crisis chiefly concerns Greece and Portugal.” But a broader crisis of the private sector and the banking system has affected many member states, he wrote, adding that another problem area was “control and supervision by the financial and monetary authorities of the eurozone.”

Simitis blamed the EU for failing to create “a method of dealing with the inequalities between its developed core and its less developed periphery.” “It has not worked systematically to truly promote economic growth. If this is not done, there will be more crises,” he wrote, noting that the only way forward is to introduce additional measures for growth and convergence.

In the commentary, Simitis also refuted the widely propagated claim that Greece entered the eurozone by falsifying data. “The allegation indicates ignorance, not to say hypocrisy,” the ex premier wrote. 

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