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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The S. I. on Global Financial Issues

Excerpts of the President of the Socialist International, George A. Papandreou, at the meeting of Socialist International on Global Financial Issues, taking place in New York

“Dear friends, the European Union and the eurozone have faced major challenges, and I would say we still face a major challenge, even though we have taken some very important decisions, not only concerning Greece but also concerning our European future.

However, I myself believe, from my experience but also I am talking with many people, that we still have much to construct in Europe and still have to deal with questions such as: How can we move out of this recession if everybody follows only an austerity program. How do we have a comprehensive growth project or plan in Europe?
How do we become more competitive as a continent and as countries in very much a very changing globalised world, in a way however which is also sustainable and a green economy, and also it doesn’t undermine completely the social welfare model, the so-called European social model, which Joe reminded me Dragi a few days ago said that this is the end of the European social model, which I think is not the problem, because obviously we have very competitive economies in Europe and in other parts of the world that have been able to maintain social cohesion, much more equal societies, and that’s a big issue which Joe recently has written about and soon to be published a book on inequality that will tell us about this, and very competitive economies.
So we have the Nordic countries, where we have a combination of a just tax system, a cohesive society. New Zealand of course has a record, and you can tell us about that, too. But I think this is something which we more progressives have to look into.
One thing that also has come up very often in our discussions is the fact that these changes, these developments have put huge stress on our democratic institutions. How do we manage the markets, if you like, when the speed of change, the lack of transparency very often, the lack of transparency in the financial system? Phil Angelides chaired a commission after the crisis here in the United States in the Congress about this, and you’ll say what you saw from the inner workings of this.
But in Europe we have talked about dealing with tax havens, dealing with the rating agencies, making banks more transparent, making sure that – also we talked about measures that could bring more justice such as the financial transaction tax, more transparency for the CDS markets.
But a lot of talk, in the end. In the end the policies have hit, you know, the pensions or the wages, the low wages and the shrinking of the middle class, rather than dealing with some of these deeper inequalities and a wider financial system which needs rectifying.
The sovereign debt issue of course is an issue that became more apparent after the 2008 crisis and has become more than just a Greek problem. Even here in the United States there is a big discussion about it. How do we deal with this therefore and where have we come since 2008? What are the trends that we see? And what we politicians, and particularly progressive politicians around the world should aspire towards or should mobilize towards, what our challenges are I think is the key purpose of this meeting.”

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