Greece comes first, prime minister George Papandreou said on Sunday, adding that he will do his duty in the face of the risk of Greece remaining years behind, during an address to local officials in Kalavryta.

"At this time, the country comes first. Not myself, nor PASOK, nor the political parties. In the face of the risk of Greece remaining years behind, I will do my duty. I do not care about petty-party politics and the political cost," Papandreou said.

The premier said that from the outset he had sought cooperation so that the country would exit the crisis more quickly while, on last week's meeting of the political party leaders chaired by the President of the Republic, he said that "we converge on many things".

"Political will is needed to transcend the party interests, and this will be proven in action. We can be different, but not enemies," Papandreou said, urging that such a picture of seriousness on the party of the country would give a resounding reply to those who doubt Greece.

Papandreou, who accompanied Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper on a visit to the historic city of Kalavryta, the site of a Nazi massacre of the entire male population on December 13, 1943, also addressed a gathering of local city and Western Greece Periphery officials and organisations.

Addressing the officials, Papandreou said that the courage and sacrifice of the people of Kalavryta was proof that nothing can daunt the courage of the Greeks, adding that the Greek people need to call up the same courage for the country to exit from the deep political and institutional crisis it faces today, symptoms of which are the debt and deficits crisis.
"It is a domestic crisis, but in an exceptionally adverse international climate," the premier said, stressing that, in such conditions, "we all need to once again realise our responsibilities."
Faced with "those who are fighting in order for nothing to change, we are taking the situation in our hands and taking the country out of monitoring", he said, adding that now is the time for Greece to stand on its own strength.
He said that the "old system of clientele relations, corruption and intransparency" is "resisting everywhere", adding that "the battle is in full swing", and urged that "despite the real dangers, we must have confidence in our strengths".
Papandreou said that neither he nor anyone else in his government would back down on Greece standing on its own feet, adding that the struggles and sacrifices of the Greek people are not in vain and are producing results, and called on everyone to "shut their ears to the Sirens that say that our struggle is in vain".
Greece, he said, is in the first year of a three-year effort, and last year the quandary was put forward of whether all the Greeks and the country's partners make an effort or the country goes bankrupt. The government, he continued, opted for the first choice, and added that Greece can have primary surpluses by 2012.
History has shown that the Greeks have lost only when they were divided, and "the time has come to overcome the party walls", he said.
"I have no taboo on accepting any proposal that leads to the achievement of our targets," the premier added.