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GreekReporter.comGreeceEx-Prime Minister Denies Involvevment To Nation's Corruption

Ex-Prime Minister Denies Involvevment To Nation's Corruption

Former Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis (photo) on Sunday dismissed as “nonsense” suggestions that he had been warned about the country’s dire financial troubles by a top EU official years previously.
In a statement to state television NET, Simitis also denied admitting in a discussion with the EU official, Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker, that there was little he could do because of widespread corruption in the country.
“This is nonsense,” said Simitis, a Socialist who served two terms in power from 1996 to 2004, overseeing the country’s transition to the euro and costly preparations for the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
“During my term the country had 5% growth and a public deficit of 4%. I had no reason, and would accept no discussion over whether my country was corrupt or not,” the former PM said.
A political row erupted in Greece over the weekend after Eurogroup chief Juncker said Friday that Greece’s financial woes were well known among top EU officials but kept quiet until the crisis erupted last year.
“It was quite obvious that one day Greece would have to face this kind of problem, and we knew that this problem would occur,” Juncker told a forum on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington.
He added that he tried at one point to seek a solution to the problems with an unnamed Greek prime minister who told him: “I am governing a country of corruption.”
Officials close to Simitis’ successor, Conservative Costas Karamanlis, have also denied he made the remark during his 2004-2009 period in office.
Greece narrowly avoided bankruptcy this year and had to be rescued by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund with a massive bailout loan.
It nearly became insolvent after its credibility collapsed when the new Socialist government of George Papandreou revealed in October that the country’s public deficit had been misreported by Karamanlis’ government.
Papandreou has since readily admitted that the country has a major corruption problem that stifles progress and investment.

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