ATHENS – Democratic Socialists Movement leader and former Prime Minister George Papandreou in an interview to ANA-MPA on Saturday referred to everything and everyone and shed light to a number of questions and speculations regarding his actions and policy when he was prime minister to a Greek media after three years of silence.
In his interview referring to his meeting with former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the summer of 2009 and the allegations that it was then that he decided Greece’s accession to the IMF and not in the spring of 2010 called them nonsense.” No decision has been taken before or after the elections in any discussion with Strauss-Kahn. We both agreed that Greece took the right steps but without EU’s support the markets will not calm. But I was worried”, said Papandreou, “because I saw that Europe underestimated the Greek problem, they said ‘it’s your problem, your created it you must solve it’. I discussed all possible scenarios to protect my country. Neither the IMF was the solution because the money was not enough to cover Greece’s needs. Based on these discussions I started a diplomatic marathon to persuade the Europeans to support us. There was no accession into the IMF but into the European Support Mechanism which I, with the support of Strauss-Kahn and other European leaders, persuaded EU to set from zero at a record time”.
Asked on who finally brought the IMF in Greece, German Chancellor Merkel or himself, George Papandreou said “It is widely known that many countries and particularly Germany demanded IMF’s participation into the programme, they have said either the IMF will participate or we will not participate at all. You can see even now, that we are at the final phase before our exit from the adjustment programme, some EU partners’ insistence to IMF’s involvement. It sounds strange but IMF was hesitant. I do not believe that the Fund wanted to get involved into the eurozone, many non-EU country members of the board as Brazil expressed their opposition. I had asked for a purely European mechanism. I had proposed the establishment of a European Monetary Fund.
You are charged by your former party PASOK and its leadership that you are responsible for the rapid fall of its popularity because you did not ask the programme to be approved by parliament’s vast majority and did not proceed with a referendum or elections before the signing of the memorandum asked ANA-MPA reporter Vassilis Mourtis. “I asked for consensus” said Papandreou “I did not take into account the political cost. We undertook the whole burden. I do not apologise for that. Those that should apologise are those that did not help and who have huge part of the responsibility for the Greek crisis. New Democracy’s leadership had taken a final decision not to vote the programme and I remind that ND threw out its deputies that voted it. They should apologise today for their stance and their refusal to assist a government that did its patriotic duty.
On charges that he handed over the authority to Antonis Samaras in June 2011, Papandreou said “I did not hand over the leadership. I saw what was happening in PASOK. Some deputies were against the government’s efforts not for ideological or political but for personal reasons. They simply did not want me to be prime minister or finance minister. I also saw what was happening in the Greek society and the manipulation of the people’s rage. When I left the protesting people disappeared from the squares. I have called Antonis Samaras and asked him to rise to the occasion by accepting a coalition government with a specific framework of progressive reforms to tidy up the public sector with specific timetables, against corruption and a new growth model. He did not react negatively. On the contrary. Unfortunately, later I was informed that there were leaks in ND saying that I have resigned. That’s what Samaras’ associates had understood. Shame, a unique opportunity was lost then.
Asked on what happened at the EU informal Summit in Cannes, a few days after the agreement in October 2011 with Greece’s EU partners and speculations that the order for his overthrow was given after Cannes, Papandreou opined “In October’s EU Summit we reached a historic agreement for Greece. An additional 120 billion euros loan with better pay off conditions and a huge debt write off. In Greece, those who did not call me a traitor rejected the agreement. I knew that it would not be voted in parliament and even if it was, it would be impossible to be implemented in such conditions of ‘civil war’ in society. There was a long time that I was thinking the referendum. I wanted to have the time and the permission by law to call it before the first memorandum. I had made known my intention to European leaders as well as to Chancellor Merkel a few months ago. Yes, there was turmoil over the referendum, but if the government collapsed and went to election there wouldn’t be a turmoil? In Cannes I had an argument with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, – none of the exaggerations written- he could not understand that the referendum was and is the only democratic way to implement successfully the Brussels’ agreement if the citizens’ approved it. The referendum was a proposal for the Greek people to decide, without middlemen, good or bad protectors. Sarkozy wanted the question to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the euro currency. I resisted. Obviously, the decision for a referendum would affect our position in the eurozone and that was the reason I believed and believe that the Greeks would have said YES to the agreement. But the dilemma could only be the agreement package not our participation in the eurozone. The truth is that suddenly the main opposition’s stance towards the agreement changed and during the vote of confidence debate in parliament, a number of PASOK deputies demanded my resignation in order to vote. I had already been overthrown. Everything else is history. And another thing. I was charged that with my proposal for a referendum I set indirectly into doubt Greece’s position in the eurozone. Do you remember those who charged me which direct and clear dilemma used as their campaign slogan in the national elections? Euro or Drachma. Hypocrisy?