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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Statement by George A. Papandreou on Greece’s return to the financial markets

After almost four years of painful efforts by the Greek people, our country is now in a position to emerge from the crisis.

Greece’s return to the financial markets is an especially important and decisive development in this direction.

The cost of these efforts could have been smaller, and our return to the markets could have happened sooner, if there was national consensus from the outset of the crisis.

But when the crisis broke out, Greece was torn by a false dilemma: for or against the memorandum of understanding with the Troika – as if the bailout agreement itself was the cause of the problem, and not a consequence of deeper problems within the country. All political parties fell unto this trap, apart from the PASOK government, which shouldered the responsibility for the crisis and carried the political cost of adjustment efforts, knowing that there was no alternative.

At the time, New Democracy said that the PASOK government’s decisions – decisions that led us to where we are today – were ‘wrong’.
Today, New Democracy is celebrating Greece’s acheievements, even though it never put into practice any of its proposals while in opposition.

At the time, SYRZA assured us that it would rip up the memorandum.
Today, SYRIZA wants us to continue borrowing based on the terms of the memorandum.

In short the populist rhetoric against the memorandum subsided when our critics finally came to their senses and faced up to the truth. Unfortunately, Greece lost two precious years in the process.

Greece’s return to the markets is a very big step. But it will not lead to a leap forward if the country doesn’t fundamentally change.

No matter how many positive developments there are in fiscal terms, Greece’s future stability and security is not guaranteed unless we continue the difficult reform process we launched in 2009. A massive reform effort that was cut short two years ago, and in some cases was even dismantled.

We need to restart this reform agenda on all fronts: In public administration, local government, our productivity and development model, and of course, our political system. Making deep changes in order to overturn the bad habits of a clientelistic state and its entrenched relationships with vested interests, big and small.

Pushing through democratic and progressive reforms that will protect the public interest and restore social justice and the rule of law. Changes and reforms that will promote transparency, equality, meritocracy, and accountability at all levels of government and society.

This will give Greece a stronger voice in Europe, and in the debate on the future architecture of the EU that will start after the European elections.

This calls for a spirit of national consensus, cooperation across all political parties and movements, if we are to achieve specific targets within a specific time frame.

It would be a great shame if, two years from now, we were back in the same position, held back by the same entrenched attitudes. In the face of an increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, Greece still has many challenges ahead. So let’s not waste another two years.

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