Samaras: PM, government are the economy's problem

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras launched a scathing attack on the government during a briefing by prime minister George Papandreou on the outcome of last week's EU summit, accusing the premier and government of themselves being the problem of the country's economy, and reiterating that the only solution is a change of the Memorandum conditions and turn towards growth.

He said that the government should not be celebrating, because everything won, which indeed are a relief, had been decided ahead of the summit, while the policy being followed by the government paves the way for consecutive new Memorandums so as to perpetuate Greece's dependence.

"You are the problem, that's why you can't find a solution, which is growth," Samaras said, addressing himself to the prime minister and the government".

Samaras recalled that from the outset, when extension of the EU/IMF loan repayment period and reduction of the interest rate were set out as the goal, he himself had warned that those did not comprise a solution nor an exit from recession.

He also accused the premier of a 'foul' for trying to turn the discussion away from the fundamental problem faced by the economy to the management of the debt.

Samaras said that both the repayment extension and the reduction of the interest rate were a correction of mistakes on the part of Brussels which saw that, "with those asphyxiating frameworks, Greece would not be able to repay (the loan), nor 'exit' from the Memorandum".

"Those are corrections of a mistake, and the government has no justification to celebrate. Besides, if the Memorandum was 'good', they why are you saving us again and celebrating?," he asked the premier.

Samaras anticipated that, following the summit outcome, the threat of bankruptcy may be becoming more distant after 2012, but it was linked with new conditions, while the road was being paved for new Memorandums, one after the other, because Greece will not be able to borrow from the market at low interest rates.

The ND leader further reiterated that when a year ago his party was pointing out the need to exploit the state property to secure 50 billion euros, the government was critical, whereas now it was being pressure to do so, and warned that "whoever is pressured sells at low prices".

He also said that, under the Competitiveness Pact, fiscal surpluses are now required, "and that is why ND is calling for development" in the face of the dead-end policy being followed by the government, noting that revenues "have collapsed" due to the deep recession that Greece has entered into.

Samaras further pointed out that Ireland had negotiated from the outset and maintained low interest rates in order to boost growth, while Portugal was fighting to avoid entry to a Memorandum, whereas the PASOK government had caused panic and did not negotiate anything.

What the country needs, the ND leader stressed, is "growth, growth and growth, and a drastic change of the Memorandum terms", but warned that this could not be achieved by the current government "the mistakes of which, both past and present, are being dearly paid by the country".

"You defamed the country, you opted for the IMF," Samaras said, adding that he was focusing on the need for growth "because it is my duty to look to the future when you seek consensus but with your policy are leading us to rock bottom".

He said it was well-known that the debt is the 'historic child' of PASOK, and the government's insistence that ND is to blame for everything has become ridiculous.

Replying to Samaras, Papandreou retorted that "New Democracy left us three things: Debt, debt, and more debt", and once again accused ND of not putting forward proposals.

"At last on the debt, I would have expected ND to say 'responsibility, responsibility, responsibility'. It's not an easy road, nor one strewed with rose petals, but we are moving ahead with consistency, determination and optimism," Papandreou added.

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