The prime minister’s credibility has experienced a “political slap-in-the-face”, main opposition New Democracy (ND) party underlined on Wednesday, in response to previously unused excerpts of statements by IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn, which were broadcast the previous evening during a heavily watched satirical TV programme. ND spokesman Yiannis Mihelakis stressed that “it is revealed that Strauss-Kahn and the premier (George Papandreou) had cooperated for months and in secrecy, while they had a systematic communication because, according to Strauss-Kahn, the prime minister wanted to hide from the people the moves he made to lead the country to the IMF.”
The specific statements by Strauss-Kahn had been included in a Canal+ TV network documentary, although they were ultimately edited out of the final cut.
Mihelakis called on the government to give a clear response to the questions that arise, "because the Greek people should learn what is hidden behind the decision to seek IMF assistance. “When Papandreou was saying that ‘there is enough money and seeking IMF assistance was not an option’, they secretly planned exactly the opposite befooling the Greek people,” he stressed.
In response, government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis criticised the way main opposition New Democracy and other opposition parties handled the reports that Prime Minister George Papandreou had discussed the possibility of resorting to an IMF loan as early as November 2009, with the former charging a "systematic disinformation and distortion of the truth".
Petalotis accused opposition parties of treating the news as a 'major scoop' and trying to suggest that Papandreou sought to get elected with the aim of bringing the IMF to Greece. In fact, the country had been one step away from default and would have been unable to run state services or pay wages and pensions, he added.
According to Petalotis, everything had been carried out in the open and Papandreou had referred to his contacts with the IMF chief in statements made in December 2009 and in February 2010, while the finance ministry had issued an announcement on January 13, 2010 that had referred to contacts between the government's economic team and an IMF delegation in Athens.
He accused ND, in particular, of hypocrisy and stressed that the Memorandum and the IMF had been brought to Greece by that party's failure to take decisions at the right time and the way it had hidden what was truly happening in the country.