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Papandreou: "Greece is Not the Problem"

George Papandreou, the former Greek Prime Minister talking to CNN, said that, “Many people have been pontificating, and patronizing, and moralizing, and scapegoating, saying you Greeks, you are the problem. I would say we Greeks have a problem. We are not the problem.”
On the Amanpour program, Papandreou fired back at those who believe Greece is a tax-evading drag on the European Union. “If we were the problem, it would be very convenient – kick Greece out, everything’s fine. What would happen to Spain, what about Portugal, what about Italy, what about the whole of the eurozone? We need more cooperation and less simplification and prejudice.”
However, the voices of doubt both inside and outside his country have taken their toll. “We have been living two years of constant insecurity. Who is going to invest, Christiane, just let me ask you: Would you invest in a country when every day there are analysts around the world saying you may or may not be in the euro?”
Continuing that theme, he said, “Two years with no growth, two years with no investment, two years with lack of consumer confidence, two years where people were pulling out their money from the banks – this can’t go on.”
If that sounds like he was blaming the messenger, Papandreou did not give his own countryman a free pass. “We Greeks want change. We know there are problems in our system. We have great potential but we need to manage our country well. Now that hasn’t been done over the last decades. And that is, of course, what we are paying for.”
Managing their country well, he insisted, doesn’t equal a Grexit. “The Greek people do not want to exit the euro. And I believe the Greek people already have shown that they have made major sacrifices to stay in the eurozone.”
At the same time, he deplored the growing tribalism that threatens the very unity of the European Unity. “We have to get away from this nationalism, Christiane. We have to get away from this simplification of ‘you are to blame’ or ‘I am to blame’ – this scapegoating from whatever side. Because that is undermining the basic principle of what Europe is about. Europe is about leaving behind our ethnic differences, our national differences and working together to solve these major problems.”
But even as he issued an impassioned defense of “the European project,” he also stressed the importance of his homeland, convinced that Greece can be “a model country for Europe and for Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean. We are a lynch pin to the Middle East, to Northern African, to the Balkans – it’s very important that Greece succeeds.”
(source: CNN, Capital)

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