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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-12-02

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Greek PM addresses European Socialists in Warsaw

  • [01] Greek PM addresses European Socialists in Warsaw

    Greek Prime Minister and Socialist International (SI) President George Papandreou said in Warsaw on Thursday that "the Socialists propose new effective tools for handling the European crisis."

    He was addressing the Party of European Socialists (PES) Council taking place in Warsaw on Thursday and Friday, just days before EU leaders convene to discuss a permanent crisis-resolution mechanism for the Eurozone.

    Papandreou stressed that "the conservatives speak of an austerity policy, we of a policy of responsibility" while defining the main lines for "the future and prospects of modern socialdemocracy."

    "The conservatives saw the crisis as a golden opportunity to weaken the social state, to reduce the labour rights that were achieved after tough struggles. It is our responsibility to safeguard them at all cost. We must help the millions of unemployed young Europeans who live in poverty," the Greek premier noted, adding that "rescuing banks at the expense of the poorer citizens is not only not viable economically, it is socially and morally unacceptable."

    Referring to the Greek welfare state, he said that a rationalisation must take place for state expenditures to be cut wherever necessary. "We must respect the money of the taxpayers," he said but noted that the big expenditures in Greece were not for the poor. They were to serve special interests.

    The Greek prime minister stressed that the problem was not an economic one but political, as was also proved for other European Union countries as well. A problem of democracy and "we socialdemocrats must restore the democratic and good governance."

    He further said "the conservatives say that the solution is austerity. We Socialdemocrats must say no. You say economic austerity, we say democratic responsibility, equality and social justice."

    "We reply with democratic responsibility, a responsible state of law and equality and responsibility for the environment. We have the solution for these in Europe," Papandreou stressed .

    He reminded that inequality is a source of social woes and a fair taxation system is needed even more in periods of crisis. An effective social state is necessary.

    He also said that tax evasion is estimated at one trillion euros a year in the EU.

    Replying to the question of where will the money be got for the social state and growth proposed by the socialists, he spoke of the new tools that they are processing, with the first being the imposition of a Financial Transactions tax.

    "We are promoting the idea of a European Financial Transactions Tax, that the European Parliament adopted with a big majority in October. We must now work for it to obtain practical implementation in the EU. We can combine the idea of the Eurobonds, green bonds, taxation for carbon dioxide," he added.

    Papandreou denounced the conservative politicians of risking to split Europe up, now that it is necessary as a strong defence and as a democratic player in the world.

    "Now that we need democratic global governance, rules of law and protection of human and social rights, they are exercising a policy of fear, because they fear change. They fear rules, because the free markets are more important for them than the fair game. And from the time that you enter the policy of fear and of the scapegoat, you undermine democracy, social cohesion, the essence of the EU," he concluded.

    During the two-day meeting, the European Socialists will attempt to arrive at answers and proposals for tackling the European economic crisis.

    During his address to the PES Council earlier on Thursday, PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen repeated a proposal made by Papandreou in the past for a financial transactions tax.

    Rasmussen said the proposed tax, along with euro-bonds, should be used as a tool to finance a bailout mechanism that truly protected EU member-states from bankruptcy and described it as a "new tool for redistributing wealth in a globalised world".

    He estimated that such a tax could raise up to 200 billion euro a year that could then be used to support employment and growth.

    Analysing the crisis in Europe, Rasmussen stressed that no country and no leadership could make a difference on its own, while praising Greece's prime minister for his handling of the crisis in Greece:

    "We have learned our lesson one more time: no one can do it alone. Even one under excellent leadership, like Greece under George Papandreou, cannot turn things around on its own. His honesty and courage facing crisis is inspiring. Unfortunately under Conservative leadership, this is not being mirrored at EU level," Rasmussen said.

    The Council began on Thursday morning, with some changes of schedule caused by the delayed arrival of participants due to bad weather and extreme low temperatures in Warsaw.

    Among those delayed was Papandreou, who arrived late in Poland after travelling from Astana in Kazakhstan, where he had attended the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit. The Greek premier will be addressing the PES Council on the future and prospects of the contemporary social democratic movement.

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