Greek prime minister George Papandreou said that his ruling PASOK party will bring Greece out of supervision and dependence and have it stand on its own two feet once again, addressing a PASOK national conference on Saturday, and effectively ruled out early general elections, saying that "the citizens will judge us in 2013" (when the current government's term in office ends).
By then, he added, "not only will we have succeeded in Greece emerging from the crisis but we will also have completed the many and important changes that will lay the foundations for a different course for Greece in the future".
Papandreou's address marked the opening of the national conference, taking place amid stringent security at the Olympic Tae Kwon Do indoor complex in Neo Faliro, near Piraeus, which will set out the party's directions and priorities for the coming period. The conference is attended by PASOK members and friends, representatives of institutional social agencies and citizens' action groups.
According to an introductory note of the national conference, "at the present political, social and economic conjuncture, through mass and democratic procedures, PASOK is attempting to make deep changes that will re-determine the country's developmental priorities, strengthen the social cohesion and reinforce social solidarity and justice".
In a series of pre-conference meetings, discussions were held on six themes: Public Administration and Local Government, Development and change of production model, the Social State, National Security policy, Hellenism of the Diaspora, and PASOK and the socialist potential today.
The conference marks the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement on September 3, 1974, by the late former prime minister Andreas Papandreou, father of current prime minister and PASOK leader George Papandreou.
"The citizens will judge us in 2013. By then, not only will we have succeeded in Greece emerging from the crisis but we will also have completed the so many and so important changes that will lay the foundations for a different course for Greece in the future. And then the citizens will judge, in its proper dimensions, the historic and national work that we have contributed during this term in office," Papandreou said.
"But what is most important, above all, for us is that we will have an easy conscience. That we will be proud that at the critical moment, we responded to the national calling of history. It is with that pride and self-confidence that we are carrying on with the battle," the premier added.
Papandreou also announced that the next PASOK Congress will be convened in the spring of 2012.
The premier reviewed PASOK's 37-year course, noting that "our foundation came to express the visions of the Greek people and Greece and to satisfy the need for the representation of a large section of the Greek society which, until then, had been in the margins", stressing that "despite the misadventures, we passed into a modern era and a Greece that is among the 30 most prosperous countries in the world".
"What I have to say today, from this podium, is that in the years that have elapsed since 1974, PASOK contributed decisively to the country's progress and the creation of a better Greece," he added.
Papandreou said PASOK was proud of its country and certain of the abilities of the Greek people. "Solutions to the problems are not provided by hatred, polarisation or violence. Today we are more dedicated to our values of humanity, dialogue, the democratic and peaceful resolution of the major problems of globalisation," he said.
The premier linked the past with the present in a series of critical sectors, with unemployment at the top of the list, on which he said today we are called on to create and real and efficient network of solidarity, support, education and participation for the unemployed, for the youth, for the weak, the pensioners and the immigrants".
On national independence, he said that "we fought for Greece to evolve from a pawn of foreign forces into a country with an independent voice -- when others were waiting for orders from outside -- and become a modern European country in the core of the European developments and playing a significant role in international developments".
Today, he added, "our party is called on to take Greece out of supervision and dependence so that it will stand on its own feet, and we will succeed".
Outlining the problems of the previous period, Papandreou focused especially on the economy, speaking of inability to build a robust economy and productive country, inability to combat corruption, intransparency, bureaucracy, the para-economy, tax evasion and profiteering, and the prevalence of clientele and guild mentalities, on which PASOK's blame lay in that it tolerated or adopted such practices, although, he added, the clientele mentality was a deeply conservative one and "the mother of today's dependence on borrowed money".
Papandreou said that PASOK had clearly stated that it was fully prepared to shoulder those responsibilities when it sought the people's confidence in the 2009 general elections, and has shouldered them, while at the same time it is doing everything necessary for a certain course to an exit from crisis.
"In this time that has been given to us with the support of our partners, we are determined to change Greece," the premier stressed.
On PASOK's ideological position, Papandreou said that "we neither deify nor demonise the market or the state, and this is what differentiates us from the Right and from the traditional Left".
He said that PASOK considers the market as a tool that is regulated by the state, and the state as a democratic tool to serve the individual and society.
As for the present period, he harshly criticised the preceding New Democracy (ND) government for not only failing to correct the country's weaknesses but instead inflating them "to such a degree that Greece found itself vulnerable as no other European country at the mercy of the international crisis".
He said that his government acknowledges its own responsibilities, but was also the first to speak out on the European and global dimension of the crisis, adding that the battle being waged at this time was also a battle to deal with the global crisis.
The first target, he continued, is "a global, or at least a more powerful European, democratic governance that will set out rules, regulations and checks".
Papandreou also called for a new European developmental strategy founded on a "green economy", and stressed the need for finding new resources at European level through the imposition of a tax on financial transactions (Tobin tax) and on carbon emissions.
The premier further called for the introduction of euro-bonds in order to deal with the debt crisis in Europe.
On competitiveness, Papandreou said that the emerging economies were competing with the developed economies through the exploitation of inequality and cheap labor, whereas "we want competitiveness not through inequality but through quality".
He also reiterated his call for green growth which, he said, "will break the vicious cycle of recession and prepare our societies for an economy beyond oil dependence".
Papandreou also championed a Europe that would be a "model of humanisation of the global economy", stressing that a "Europe of only austerity has no future".
On the decisions taken at the July 21 EU summit, Papandreou said they marked a new prospect for Greece and were proof of the correctness of the government's strategy.