Politics: PM briefs parliament on EU summit, notes 'it was a tough negotiation'

Prime minister George Papandreou briefed parliament on Wednesday on the outcome of last Friday's informal eurogroup and extraordinary EU summits in Brussels, which decided an extension of Greece's 110 billion euro EU/IMF loan repayment period and reduction of the interest rate, stressing that it was a very tough negotiation but the government achieved what it had said it would try to.

In the briefing, taking place at Papandreou's initiative, the premier warned that Greece has much ahead of it to do, following the informal summit.

"The solution is in the hands of all of us, with the big changes we have commenced and others that are still ahead of us to do," he said, adding that the changes will affect privileges and long-standing established rationales and practices, while also calling on the opposition parties to submit "creative proposals" so as "to give to our children a Greece without debts".

Stressing that "we achieved what we fought for", Papandreou said that, following the summit, "the road, the path, becomes easier, given that the systematic daily changes that bear fruit are being made".

"Step by step we will bring growth and new jobs to our country. We will gradually reduce the debt, which we must not leave to our children," the premier added.

Papandreou noted that the Greek people's volition for the changes was Greece's advantage in the negotiations that took place, as was the Greek political world's agreement on the need to properly endow the new EU stability mechanism from 2013 on, to extend the loan repayment period and the interest rates, to enable the European mechanism to purchase state bonds if needed, to put a tax on bank transactions in order for "the banks, too, to pay for the crisis that they created in Europe and in America".

"We would have liked bolder decisions, naturally. We consider the euro-bond to be a permanent solution to the problem and to the debt. Last week we achieved the adoption of this proposal by the European Parliament by many forces. And I congratulate PASOK eurodeputy Annie Podimata for her initiative. We will continue to advance such solutions," Papandreou said.

"We are continuing even stronger. Even if we did not have the debt, we still have much ahead to do. The solution, however, is in hour hands, with changes to the state, the growth model, the implementation of the rules of fairness, our own perception itself. The changes will disencumber many, but will also affect the privileges and old established things. They will 'break' perceptions and practices -- like a report released today that corruption has declined. They will break taboos and acquired rights...," the premier added.

Papandreou once again called on the opposition parties to join the dialogue for the middle-term fiscal strategy program. "We need constructive criticism with proposals. But criticism is one thing and a political system that eats away at itself is something else".

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