Strong gov't reaction to article on Papandreou, IMF

Government spokesman George Petalotis reacted strongly to an article appearing in the Sunday edition of "Kathimerini", according to which Prime Minister George Papandreou had secretly asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to intervene in order to bail out Greece in December 2009.

"We all remember the Greek government's immense efforts, especially those of Prime Minister George Papandreou, to deal directly with the prospect of bankruptcy for the country that was revealed after the elections of 2009," Petalotis stressed in response to the article.

According to the spokesman, the previous New Democracy government had carefully hidden the extent of Greece's debt and deficit, which were revealed immediately after the elections were held and led to violent reactions from international markets.

"With delicate handling, with calmness and with great determination at times very difficult for our country, we succeeded in creating the solution of the trilateral mechanism for loans and support and its application to us," Petalotis pointed out.

He also underlined that the government's efforts had led Europe to adopt a permanent European Financial Stability Facility, despite the very negative climate toward Greece that the years of ND government had delivered, and given the country a temporary respite from its loan obligations so that it might plan and carry out the major changes that needed to be made.

"This course was neither self-evident nor easy," Petalotis underlined, stressing that this result was achieved through hard work and "concentrated understanding" by both Greek people and the government.

The Kathimerini article cited as its source a documentary filmed by the French television network Canal+ that is due to be broadcast next month. This apparently contains footage in which IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn refers to being approached by Papandreou and asked whether Greece might seek the aid of the IMF, which Strauss-Kahn took as an expression of Papandreou's confidence in his abilities.

The article says that Strauss-Kahn warned that European leaders would not agree to unilateral IMF intervention in a eurozone country, something that was confirmed at the EU summit in December 2009 when Papandreou raised the issue and received a negative reply his EU counterparts.

ND spokesman on newspaper report

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis, commenting on an article appearing in the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Kathimerini", said "today's publication in the newspaper 'Kathimerini' that reveals that Mr. (Prime Minister George) Papandreou, from the beginning of December 2009, was discussing in the backstages with IMF President Mr. Strauss Kahn our country's subjection to the IMF, confirms in the most resounding way, what New Democracy was maintaining since then and what the entire Greek people were suspecting:

That firstly: Mr. Papandreou and his government deliberately led the country to the Memorandum, swelling in the beginning the deficit and then degrading the Greek economy, with the statements about the 'Titanic', a 'corrupt country'. etc.

And that secondly: Mr. Papandreou was deliberately disorienta-ting the Greek people, while in the backstages he had chosen to lead the country to the IMF."

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