A veteran Cabinet minister on Tuesday reiterated that Greek Premier George Papandreou merely voiced the fact that many Europeans are annoyed with Berlin's recent initiatives in the euro zone economy, referring to high-profile statements by the latter at a Socialist International (SI) meeting in Paris a day earlier.
Papandreou was quoted on Monday from the French capital as saying that Berlin's position of letting banks and bonds markets contribute to any Euro-zone debt default could push weaker economies into bankruptcy.
"...(This) has created a spiral of higher interest rates for countries that seemed to be in a difficult position, such as Ireland and Portugal ... This could create a self-fulfilling prophecy ... This could break backs; force economies towards bankruptcy," the Greek PM was quoted as saying.
Back in Athens, Alternate Culture Minister Tilemachos Hytiris, a veteran PASOK cadre, underlined that “there is widespread concern in Europe that things have changed and that this is not the Europe we used to know. The Europe of the crisis is different. This is true (there is a leadership deficit in the EU) and this becomes much more evident in a period of crisis.”
"The initiatives undertaken mainly by Germany while, at the same time, is trying to be in charge -- probably the only one in charge in Europe considering that France is being dragged along to support its (Germany’s) positions -- are initiatives that start slowly to become annoying and this annoyance was expressed by the prime minister.
“If things do not change, we will not be talking about a Europe of two speeds…it will become unbalanced (…). Europe used to stand out for its social policy, its traditions in social policy and culture, and of course its history. However, the globalization in recent years and the current crisis appear to have changed that, while Germany also appears to be moving toward becoming the absolute rapporteur on European issues,” he added.
In contrast with Germany, Hytiris referred to the personal assistance offered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Greece as regards the economic crisis the country is facing.
"France’s stance helped Greece to find a solution and a way out and continues to do so. This is a steady assistance reflected by the political stance of President Sarkozy.”
“In terms of the memorandum itself, every 4-5 months we are faced with an upward revision of the deficit (…) This triggers an additional effort on our behalf in order to reduce the deficit. We would be reducing it to 8 pct but now considering that the deficit rose to 15.5 pct it will have to be reduced to 9-10 pct. Therefore, this is the understanding we are seeking. We do not ask to change what we have to do. There are voices in Europe that agree with that, namely that Greece is really trying but it could be given more time so that the measures taken won’t be as harsh as the figures dictate. This is the point we are at, namely, at the discussion underway by many Europeans. The fact that the effort should continue is undoubtedly not being questioned by anyone,” he stated.