PM: Comprehensive package solution, or no solution

"We will either have a comprehensive, package solution, or there will be no solution, this is our position," prime minister George Papandreou stressed at a ministerial meeting he chaired on Monday evening ahead of Friday's critical eurogroup summit meeting in Brussels and a March 25 EU summit.

He said that a package solution was the solution "that will help Europe, the eurozone, the euro currency and, naturally, Greece and the other markets being hit by the markets", adding that "there is no doubt that this requires of us the strict adherence to our targets and commitments, and the changes that need to be made".

However, the premier stressed, the EU "also has the collective responsibility to formulate a safe environment for the euro and, consequently, for the management of the crisis, in order to convince the markets".

He said that proposal currently on the table was founded on the decisions taken by the EU in February, and referred to various points such as economic governance, the Merkel-Sarkozy proposal for a Competitiveness Pact, the future European support mechanism, and management of Greece's and Ireland's debts, and reiterated: "Our position is that there must be a comprehensive package solution, and this is where will wage the battle".

Papandreou said that now was the opportunity for the EU to finally realise that "we need to take such decisions that will be effective vis-a-vis the markets, because we constantly take decisions that are a step behind the conditions being formulated by the so-called markets, and this is why we must wage this battle".

"In the EU, we are waging a battle of democracy in the sense that we, the politicians, are called on to determine the policies that will calm, tame and utilise the markets to the benefit of the citizens, instead of the markets continuing to act in fear and, many times, with self-serving, profit-oriented purposes and creating problems for our policies and decisions regardless of the fact that those policies and decisions are correct, well-grounded, and have the support of peoples and governments," Papandreou explained.

The Greek premier noted that although the battle up to March 25 is critical, "it is not, however, the end of the world", given that "if positive decisions are not forthcoming we, in every instance, must carry on with our program and put increasing weight on our own power" while, in the event that the battle goes well, "this does not mean that because a better climate has been created that we shouldn’t make the major changes or implement the changes that have already been decided".

He further stressed that the country's debt, although more manageable, continues to exist and is very high, and criticised main opposition New Democracy (ND) for the 'legacy it left behind'.

Another battle being waged is that of implementation of the changes, given that Greece's problem "cannot be faced only through reduction of salaries and pensions, but is something much wider, a state system, a structure that is not productive, which lacks transparency, which contains lawlessness, lack of confidence in the institutions, and that is something that cannot be solved only through legislation," the premier added.

He stressed the importance of stabilising the financial and credit markets of Greece and the economy, given that Greece is a point of stability in the wider region of the Balkans and the Middle East "where the situation is particularly fluid and where the pressures could potentially intensify in our neighborhood" on the issue of a possible new wave of refugees.

Greece, on its part, is doing what it must and is on a track that has been positively evaluated, Papandreou said, adding that the country's "negotiating card" is "our credibility, and it is on this basis that we are conducting the negotiation".

On Monday's downgrading of the Greek economy by three notches by Moody's, Papandreou charged that "this new downgrading is unjustified, since it has no basis in relation to the course of our program".

He assessed that the climate on the markets is also burdened by the major problem of the Irish banks, given that it also burdens the state debt and the deficits and creates a situation in the markets that is very hard to confront, noting that this was why Ireland entered the support mechanism.

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