New cabinet to be announced on Friday
"This is the time to do battle and we don't have the luxury of avoiding this fight," Prime Minister George Papandreou stressed in his address to ruling PASOK's Parliamentary group on Thursday.
Speaking to his MPs at the start of an unscheduled meeting that he called earlier the same day, in the wake of an avalanche of developments and the resignations of three ruling party MPs, Papandreou sought to explain his reasons for seeking the support of the opposition parties for the new round of austerity measures and why his efforts for a consensus had ended in failure.
While underlining that the government and PASOK's Parliamentary group were responsible for leading the country out of the crisis, Papandreou argued that a broader consensus would have given the country additional negotiating strength.
"When other Parliament decide to lend to Greece with large majorities, it is not right for us here in Greece to be unable to reach agreement," he said.
Stressing that he had always put the interests of the country above everything else, Papandreou then accused main opposition New Democracy of having torpedoed all chance of achieving an agreement by publicly setting terms that could not be accepted.
"I will continue down the same path of duty, along with PASOK's Parliamentary group," he said, repeating his intention to hold a reshuffle and then seek a vote of confidence from Parliament.
The prime minister said the primary aim was to create a primary budget surplus and that the country had to succeed in three important goals: getting the huge debt and deficit under control, carry out the changes and reforms needed by the country and creating conditions on the international scene that would allow Greece to effectively pursue its interests.
Papandreou also referred to the mixed messages coming out of Europe and revealed that he had discussed this issue on Thursday during a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Among others, he referred to an upcoming overall settlement of Greece's debt problems through plans for a new "mammoth" loan.
Papandreou reiterated that he will continue to wage the struggle, adding that he will proceed with the reshuffling of the government that he announced on Wednesday, as well as the procedure for the granting of a vote of confidence to the new government that will result from the reshuffle.
The prime ministewr admitted that there were mistakes and weaknesses in the previous period and promised that the new government will be more cohesive and more effective, so as to proceed with the necessary changes. He stressed, however, that the reshuffle does not mean that the previous government did not achieve many things.
He mentioned that many issues are being promoted for settlement, which he raised with the party leaders, such as the change in the electoral law, the beginning of the procedure of revising the constitution and the privatisations, clarifying that there is no question of corporial guarantees.
These major issues, as Papandreou said and told the party leaders, must be brought to the attention of the Greek citizens in the form of referendums, so that the citizens' judgement will commit the next governments.
Papandreou once again raised the issue of "cacophony" and perplexity that is being observed in the European Union, to which he attributed considerable mistakes in the way with which it handled the issues. And he added that "the right solution for Greece, will also be the right solution for Europe."
Lastly, he underlined that "either Europe will write history, or history will write off the European Union."
In a televised address on Wednesday, following a renewed attempt to form a consensus government that included Papandreou's offer to resign as prime minister, Papandreou had said he would hold a reshuffle on Thursday and then seek a vote of confidence from Parliament.
The resignation of three MPs last night and Thursday morning, however, followed by insistent calls for a meeting of the Parliamentary group, have delayed the announced reshuffle.