Prime minister George Papandreou chaired a series of mini Cabinet meetings throughout Saturday, with different compositions each time, with the focus on the 2011 general state budget and discussions that will commence on Monday when a team of inspectors of the European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) 'troika' are due in Athens to draft their regular progress report for the disbursement of a 9 billion euros third tranche of the 110 billion euros EU-IMF support loan to Greece.

 

The new budget is due to be tabled in parliament on November 18, and will take into account an upward revision of the country's deficit for the period 2006-2009 expected to be released by Eurostat on Monday.

Also discussed at the meetings was the upcoming visit by Papandreou, who is also president of the Socialist International (SI), to Paris to chair a two-day meeting of the SI Council that opens in the French capital on Monday. Papandreou will also meet with French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday during his visit to Paris, which takes place shortly after the G-20 summit in Seoul and amidst heightened developments in Europe.

Speaking during the first of three consecutive government meetings held at his office in Parliament on Saturday, Papandreou stressed: "We can succeed in targeting extravagance. No dismissals, no additional burden for wage earners and pensioners and no increase in tax rates, beyond what we have already committed ourselves to."

The meetings focused on the 2011 budget and the discussions that will begin with the troika on Monday, as well as the government's programming and initiatives for the immediate future.

Another issue in the meetings was European developments and discussions in the eurozone, in light of the meeting that the prime minister will be having in Paris on Monday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the meeting of the Socialist International.

"To the persistent danger-mongering, we reply with consistency and we are steadfastly continuing the struggle for the salvation and recovery of the country with big changes," Papandreou said.

The prime minister underlined that his government, just as it had achieved the biggest deficit decrease in a year in the country's history, will continue in this way "speaking to the citizens with sincerity," "looking at them in the eyes" and "waging with them the most important struggle, that for the salvation and the recovery of our country."

Papandreou also called on all to realize their responsibilities and to take an example from all that is currently taking place in the rest of Europe, stressing "how important it was and is to have as a shield today the support mechanism, which protects us from the attacks," and "how important it is for us to continue with steadfastness and consistency the big changes that guarantee the rule of law, social justice, a prospect for the economy and our growth prospect."