A step towards European integration was made, but with a delay, at last Thursday's special eurozone summit, Greek President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias said on Sunday at the annual reception he hosted on the 37th anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece after the fall of the 7-year military dictatorship in 1974. He also spoke of the "enduring, but not in vain" struggle for "bread, education, freedom" of the anti-dictatorship movement and for the need for "those who are concealing their revenues" to pay, but also of Friday's terrorist attack in Norway.
Addressing representatives of the anti-dictatorship struggle, the President said that the country owes them a lot, noting however that their generation, although sorely tried, had a "horizon" before the.
"The same does not hold true today, though. The young generation, which grew up in conditions of relative or greater prosperity, is the first that will go through tougher times than the preceding generation. Because it carries on its backs the unbearable debt. We owe it to this new generation to doe the impossible in order to ensure that its own 'stone years' will be as few as possible," Papoulias said, adding that the demands of the anti-dictatorship struggle remain timely today: "For 'bread' in an economy that enables a dignified life to all the citizens, for 'education' in an open society with rules of meritocracy and ability of taking advantage of the creativity of its citizens, and for 'liberty' in a country that does not live on borrowed money".
On the decisions taken at Thursday's eurozone summit, Papoulias noted that "with great delay, a step was taken towards European integration, but the road is a long one", adding that the cementing of rules of economic democracy are a national wager.
"The hour has come for those who conceal their revenues to pay, whether they are large-scale tax-dodgers with heavy accounts in banks abroad or are a part of the untaxed middle class. I do not accept that the black economy is invincible. Let us all agree that tax evasion is the most anti-social attitude, creates the conditions for breaks in the social cohesion, undermines the national future," Papoulias said, and called for reinforcement of the provisions dealing with money laundering with a lifting of the secrecy of bank accounts when assets disproportionate to the declared income is discerned.
He further stressed the need of dealing with unemployment and stamping out bureaucracy in order to attract foreign investments and develop healthy entrepreneurship so that "we will not remain at the mercy of eternal borrowing", and warned against turning the economic crisis into a crisis of politics and the institutions.
"Some seek to turn it into a crisis of democracy," the President warned, stressing that "in a state that functions with a political system with self-respect, the outcome of the battle for social justice averts the nightmarish prospect of uncontrollable social tensions".
In that context, he called on the politicians to speak more, intervene and not leave "the entire social sphere to those who speak a lot without reason or for their own purposes".
Papoulias further expressed abhorrence over Friday's terrorist attack in Norway, which "reminds us how much darkness human nature may hide and which could lead to indoctrination to hate".