George A. Papandreou (born June 16, 1952) is Former Prime Minister of Greece, current President of Socialist International, a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and former President of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). He served as the 11th Prime Minister of Greece from October 6, 2009 - November 11, 2011, after PASOK’s victory in the October 2009 national elections.

George A. Papandreou

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Our agenda creates a common family

Speech at the closing session of the Council of Socialist International held in Budva Montenegro

“Thank you very much. I think this has been a very productive Council. I just want one point; I don’t want to make a long summary of what we have said and done, but I think one point I’d like to make, and it’s answering to a question: What is the value of this organization, of our organisation? What is it that brings us here together?

I think that our discussions, I do believe very much that our discussions these days, these two days, have shown that not only are we relevant but we are more relevant than ever. We are central, we are key to the issues that the world is facing today.

And I would add to that that we are not only central to the issues the world is facing, but that the issues the world is facing are the issues we also face at the regional, national and local level. And this is, I think, a new historical change for humanity.

Take the environment, the issues we discussed. Yes, the environment is a global issue. But it is also a local issue. We have to work at the global level, but our parties are dealing with this issue, our peoples, our citizens are dealing with this issue every day. They see climate change and they see climate … They see the problems of changing the energy makeup of our industries and our economies.

The same with democracy. Democracy is no longer the fight for democracy in Greece, when I felt the solidarity of the socialist movement and the progressive movement around the world. Or one country, with the fight for democracy in Chile. Or the fight for democracy today in Honduras. It is a fight for democracy in every single one of our societies, whether they are dictatorships or whether they are full-blown democracies, because democracy is under threat by the huge powers that are concentrating wealth, to media, the huge inequalities – Zlatko mentioned this – the huge inequalities which Paul Krugman talks about in that US. He says that is why we had the crisis. The crisis was in the huge inequalities, was created and undermined our democratic institutions.

Disarmament. Disarmament is no longer an issue between two Cold War powers. It is an issue which has spread out, from nuclear power to nuclear energy, but also to the spread of small arms around the world, with tragic consequences very often in many of the conflict areas in Africa and other places, the armaments that have come into our societies. And of course this is linked with our energy policies also.

The financial crisis. Yes, it began on Wall Street, but it has affected every single one of our countries, every single citizen around the world.

So this is why we are relevant. We are relevant because we link these global issues with the local issues.

But one more point on this. The fact that these issues are global sometimes makes our citizens feel powerless. They feel that, since they are global issues, what can we do in a country? What can we do in our locality? How can we really change this world? How can we, as one party, one socialist party in a country, actually deal with all these issues?
And very often the conservatives say, “Well, things are as they are. You can’t change things. There’s only one way, and that’s the neoliberal way. There’s the market, and you really can’t change.”

I think what we provide, as the Socialist International, is that our agenda gives, creates a common family. Our citizens, our socialist members, our party members can feel that there is a global movement, that we are not alone, that we can make a difference, if we work together.

And this is hitting against the apathy, hitting against the cynicism, hitting against the reaction sometimes of our citizens, when they feel they cannot do much, when they go to extremes – nationalism, fascism, neofascism, racisms – because they see no other way.

So our larger family today, I think, is more important than ever, in creating this common movement, these common goals, this common understanding, this common power, which is empowering our citizens, our parties around the world.

This is what we want to do. And I think that since the last Congress, when we created a number of committees, there is a new dynamism in these committees, both the thematic committees but also the regional committees. I think we saw this today in our Council and yesterday in our Council, the work that has been done, the very productive work, which is so relevant to the regions but also to the issues we are dealing with around the world.

So allow me thank you, thank you all for the productive work. I thank those on the committees, who have been working hard and who continue to work. I’d like to thank, of course, our Montenegrin hosts, Darko and Milo, and of course the staff here. You have worked hard, and we wish you the best of rest after these days. Thank you very much.

Also the staff from the Secretariat, Luis. Thank you very much. I thank our translators, who have worked hard to translate and go beyond the language barriers.

Thank you all again, and I look forward to seeing you soon in the committees, in the commissions, in the regions, and again in the Council. Good luck, and we will prevail. Thank you very much.”

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