Prime minister George Papandreou said that his ruling PASOK party over the past two years has been facing very tough battles at all levels, both inside and outside Greece, with the issue of dealing with the country's debt and deficits being the primary battle, while he also warned that efforts to bring back to the forefront an issue of setting up a government of personalities were disorienting at this time, during a meeting he chaired Tuesday evening of the PASOK political council.
Papandreou said that the efforts 'of those who are now trying to bring back the rationale of governments of personalities" are "disorienting", adding that his government and he personally had made an effort vis-a-vis main opposition New Democracy (ND) for the prospect of a "genuine intention for national consensus", but the "only feeling I got from this entire effort is that their (ND) policy is exceptionally short-sighted and very circumstantial".
"This, I believe, has unfortunately not changed, despite the importance of seeking convergences, as we correctly sought in the field of education but also in other sectors, because the wider the consensus is, the more that these changes are cemented institutionally and have a much greater time span," Papandreou said, adding that "the conviction is also created in the Greek society that we are acting institutionally and not opportunistically or simply sensationally."
"On our part, we have proven that we are seeking this and, naturally, we will continue," the premier stressed.
Papandreou further said that ND has opted for "a very clear -- as we see it -- tactic, not a good one, but I would say a clear one with respect to expediency...It wants us to fail, it is betting on our failure, or at least our decline", and that was why "it has aggravated and will continue to aggravate its criticism and will continue to reproduce the danger-mongering whenever it sees that there are problems ahead of us, in the hope that it will not be possible to reverse the current economic situation or, if it is reversed, that our party will have such a decline that we will be credited only with the negative aspects".
The prime minister said that PASOK, over the past two years, has been faced with very tough battles at all levels, both at hope and abroad, with the first being that of dealing with the problems of the debt and deficits and the country's lack of credibility "due to the very many problems we inherited" from the preceding ND government.
"It was our patriotic duty to fight, to negotiate and to regain our voice and our credibility. And, as you have seen, step-by-step in some instances and with leaps and bounds in other instances, we are dealing with this matter, convincing everyone of the better management of these issues, such as the debt," he continued.
He said the July 21 eurozone summit decision was a "historic decision first of all for Europe, but definitely for us as well, without this meaning that Europe's problems have been solved", warning that "as Europe, we have been left behind the events and are constantly remaining behind", but also stressing on the other hand that "we have succeeded however, with our moves, to increasingly safeguard our country, for facilitation of the country and for new prospects opening up".
This, however, "does not mean that do not have more battles ahead of us", the premier added.
The second largest battle, Papandreou continued, is that of the "major structural changes" which, if they had been made earlier, things would have been different and milder and with more systematic negotiation, citing the example of the reform in the education system.
"Changes, such as those in education, such as the opening of the (closed) professions, the changes in the social security system in public administration, are changes that should have already been made," Papandreou said, adding of those and many more things had been done earlier "we would not have had the issue of the debt, or at least we would have been in a much better situation".
He noted that it was not by chance that Ireland, for example, not having the same problem but having a much more organised public sector system and institutions that function, will return to the markets much sooner than Greece.
The third battle, the premier continued, was that of development in the midst of recession.
Growth, however, could not be founded on glass legs, nor on parasitic forces or statism or a clientelistic perception, Papandreou warned, stressing that "it is also our duty to create all the potential so that we will have a more competitive economy and take advantage of the new opportunities our country has".
He said that it was also not by chance that "at this time Germany is seriously interested -- as (German finance minister Wolfgang) Schauble has said -- in Greece selling sun and wind (solar and aeolic energy), so that we will be able to develop all these prospects that we have, which is very important for jump-starting the economy and for its sustainability".
"It is not simply a re-starting, we are not turning back, it is also a start on firm foundations," the premier added.
Papandreou further said that a sense of justice needs to be restored among the people, adding that a battle was also being waged for a real just state "which has never been correctly organised in our country", adding that this battle was at this time particularly being waged with respect to supporting the unemployed.
On Greece's international position, the prime minister said that PASOK's positions have been "vindicated, on all that we have been saying for some time now" and, referring particularly to the euro-bond, he said that "it is a necessary institution, but behind
such an initiative something else is hidden: whether the European Union's political volition truly exists for moving forward, leaving behind the narrow ethnicism, formalism, populism and even the racism that we unfortunately see continuing with unbelievable irresponsibility".
Papandreou called for a governance "that will regulate the markets", control the derivatives, the speculators, the tax havens, the credit system and the rating firms, in tandem with a "strengthening of the autonomy of the local societies and greater self-sufficiency of the economies, in order that they may be more flexible, more prepared and stronger in the face of the many developments we have globally".
The role of the state is very significant in that, but it is changing, just as the role of the country is changing, because every country and state alone is weak, despite its size. "Even if it is the US or China, the countries cannot solve the global problems, or even their own problems, on their own. All the more so a country such as Greece," he said.