Politics: PM: 'It is Greece's responsibility to solve its crisis'

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed here on Wednesday that "it is Greece's responsibility to solve its crisis", adding that "Greece is not a poor country" and "it has great possibilities, but it was mismanaged."
Addressing a roundtable at the Public Commemoration of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) 50th anniversary, Papandreou underlined that despite press reports, Greece had "impressive results in a year: it decreased the deficit by 5 percent and the primary deficit by 7.2 percent, while there are forecasts for a primary surplus in 2012, thanks to the drastic measures."
He also noted that in the first quarter of 2011 growth rates became positive, while over the past 5-6 months exports increased on a monthly basis and on an average of 35 percent.

The Greek prime minister went on to say that his government is continuing reforms for greater transparency, the pensioning issue, for a fairer tax system based on the so-called "Scandinavian" model. As regards the tax issue in particular, he said that "because it was unfair it created the culture of tax evasion in Greece."

The prime minister also referred to the report by the Brooklyn Institute that parallelises Greece with Chile. Papandreou said that the difference between the two countries is that Chile, after the dictatorship, acquired healthy infrastructures for the regulation and growth of its economy and created transparency.

"We did not do the same in Greece," he noted, pointing to to the Institute's assessments that through structural changes Greece could also save 4-8 percent of its GDP on an annual basis.

"The first thing we should also have done were the structural changes because in this way we would have solved the crisis and the problem of our debt," Papandreou added.

He underlined the speed with which monetary markets react in contrast to political decisions that are slow. The markets' speed is not necessarily bad, he said, "but when they overshadow the political system, there is a problem of democracy because it deeply undermines the feeling of trust of our citizens."

Lastly, he referred to inequalities inside countries as well as between countries, to the "tax paradises" and the "citizens' happiness rate" that must be taken into consideration by leaders.

Concluding his speech and referring to the press, economic analysts and all those that spread rumours, the Greek premier said:"Leave us alone, we know that we have problems, leave us alone to work." 

Speaking after Papandreou's address, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria referred to the words of EU president Herman Van Rompuy who stated that he was considered a successful Finance minister because he decreased the deficit in Belgium by 6 percent of GDP in six years. Greece decreased its deficit by 5 percent in a year, Gurria added.

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