Greek prime minister and Socialist International (SI) president George Papandreou told an SI Council meeting in Athens on Friday that his PASOK government has done its patriotic duty, taking tough but necessary decisions in order to save the country.
Opening a two-day SI Council meeting attended by 300 representatives of SI member parties from all over the world, Papandreou said: "We took difficult decisions for Greece, doing our patriotic duty to save our country; necessary decisions to save the pensions and salaries..."
Papandreou described as "hubris" the situation that prevailed in Greece in the past, and the way in authority was managed. He thanked the European governments and peoples, and also the "socialist family", for their support and assistance to Greece.
"In these difficult times the country is going through, we need friends in order to win the wager, and we will win it," the Greek premier said while, referring to protestors who have been "demonstrating peacefully" throughout the country over the last three weeks, he said that they are demanding renovation of democracy.
The demonstrations were not taking place only over austerity, but for the necessity of a more just and responsible system and renewal of democracy, and accused the preceding New Democracy (ND) government of creating social and economic chaos, adding that his own government took on the burden and responsibility of leading the country out of the crisis.
Papandreou called the presence in Athens of more than 300 SI members a "vote of confidence" in the potential of the Greek people.
"We have the abilities but also the strength to succeed," the premier said, stressing his own confidence in Greece's human potential while, on the young generation, he said that "today's generation is the most educated the country has ever had".
"The decisions we took to save the country are difficult and painful, but they will give us the time and strength we need to bring about those changes that are necessary for a better tomorrow," the premier added.
Greece, he said, is not a poor country, but for many years underwent mismanagement, and from a lack of democratic and transparent management of power. Thus, resources were wasted and instead of an open governance, the country had clientele relations, waste of resources and strengthening of the powerful at the expense of the weak, he said.
Turning to the international situation, Papandreou said there was a crisis of politics and governance throughout the world, and the matter at hand was whether the politicians have the volition to face the future and manage resources to the benefit of the peoples.
On Europe in particular, he said it has the ability to play an important role in humanising globalisation, in dealing with crises, but "got stuck" and, unfortunately, "we are moving backwards".
"We have a single currency, but we don't have a single governance of our economies," he said, and reiterated his backing for the issue of euro-bonds.
Papandreou also attacked the markets and the rating agencies, and sounded a warning bell as to what it would entail for Greece if the rating agencies downgrade the country one further notch. In such an instance, he warned, the credit agencies "would have more influence than the Hellenic parliament", which is "unacceptable".
He said he was not asking for ostracism of the financial institutions from the public dialogue but, quite the contrary, "they have a place in it", but it is not possible that they should have greater power than the elected governments.
PM Papandreou holds meetings with foreign officials on sidelines of SI's conference
Prime Minister and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou held consecutive bilateral meetings on Friday afternoon with the heads of socialist and socialdemocrat parties and movements participating in the SI's conference in Athens.
Papandreou met Turkish main opposition Republican Party president Kemal Kilicdaroglu. He stressed to him how important it is "for Greece to overcome the crisis for all the countries in the region."
On the question of Greek-Turkish relations, Papandreou stressed that they are developing dynamically and, in this framework, economic cooperation being developed is important, particularly in tourism, businesses and trade.
On his part, Kilicdaroglu thanked the PASOK party leader for the invitation and termed important the latter's address at the beginning of the SI's sessions. The Turkish politician expressed the wish for Greece to overcome the economic crisis soon and, referring to relations between the two countries, termed them very good, mentioning that about 600,000 Turks come to Greece every year.
Earlier, Papandreou met with the President of Finland's Parliament Eero Heinaluoma with whom he discussed, according to reports, developments in the European economy and the actions of the Greek government, with the ratification of the Medium-term Programme and the Enabling Law, to overcome the crisis.
The meeting between the Greek prime minister and China's Deputy International Relations Minister Liu Zieyi is considered equally important. The two men referred, according to well-informed sources, to the deepening of the very good relations between the two countries and the development of economic cooperation in tourism, energy and shipping.
The chinese official thanked Papandreou for Greece's contribution to the taking out of Chinese workers from Libya.
The prime minister also held meetings with the President of Serbia Boris Tadic, the President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, the President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus Yiannakis Omirou and the joint president of the Socialdemocrat party of fYRoM Radmila Sekerinska.
The sessions of the Socialist International's directorate will come to an end on Saturday.