PM calls for renewed vote of confidence in government, as country is at critical crossroads

Greek prime minister George Papandreou on Sunday reiterated his call for national unity behind the government's austerity measures, opening a three-day confidence vote debate that winds up at midnight Tuesday with an open roll-call vote. Papandreou called on parliament to give his newly-reshuffled government a renewed vote of conference, noting that the country is at a critical crossroads and warning that a picture of division among the Greeks was not helping the country.

Warning that a disorderly bankruptcy would be catastrophic, Papandreou stressed that the country's lenders, the EU and the IMF, want to see Greece standing on its own two feet, adding that the problems would not be solved if the IMF was asked to leave, and warning also that the country's liquidity will be very soon exhausted without the disbursement of the 5th tranche of the EU-IMF bailout loan.

Papandreou asked for national consensus on fundamental axes, and a referendum on the major changes which, he said, will be contained in an amended Constitution.

The axes for the national understanding he is seeking include acknowledgement that the debt and deficits constitute a national problem and that "we must be the first to put our house in order", that the fundamental choice of an organised confrontation of the Greek debt together with the country's European partners should be averting abrupt market reactions, that the debt and deficits are the symptom of the illness and not the cause, that Greece will not be able to borrow (on the international markets) in 2012 "and this is an unexpected new complication that we need to look straight in the eye, and not with our heads buried in the sand", Papandreou elaborated.

The premier said that his new government will move along six axes:

The first axis is correction of injustices "that existed before and became apparent with the implementation Memorandum", noting that the Memorandum was not to blame for them.

The second axis was a new Constitution that would be understandable to every citizen, with a series of changes on which Greek society would decide with a referendum.

    The third axis was a program of sweeping changes in public administration.

    The fourth axis was change of the country’s production model.

    The fifth axis was an efficient social state, and guarantee of a minimum standard of living.

    The sixth axis was "major conquests" in the European Union.

In that same context, Papandreou underlined that the national issues are excluded from any negotiation whatsoever in relation to Greece's economic problem, and regarding the "collateral guarantees of the loan, we cannot accept terms that are derogatory for the country, otherwise we could reach a dead-end, with whatever that would imply".

Papandreou also assured that the people's sacrifices were not going to waste, noting the 5 percent decrease in the deficit achieved and a record increase posted in exports.

The fact that Greece has not succeeded in returning to the international markets in 2012 is a failure of the forecasts by the Troika, and not by Greece, whose proposals continue to be disregarded to a great degree, Papandreou stressed.

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