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Papandreou: We are not the problem

May 30th, 2012
04:57 PM ET

By Lucky Gold

(CNN) - George Papandreou, the former Greek Prime Minister, was indignant:  “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?”

This can’t go on

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.”

We have to get away from this nationalism

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.”

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. CVBruce

    Seeing how the whole european austerity plan has worked out makes me begin to wonder if the IMF and World Bank have been doing the right things all these years. They seems to be always telling the third world countries that the only way to get loans is if they show how austere they can be. Greece has been cutting their budget like crazy, and they continue to sink farther and farther in debt. Unemployment continues to raise while they do everything their eurozone partners have requested. Clearly Greece is the symptom of bad economic policy, not the cause of it.

    May 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
  2. aurelius

    Greek private money amounts to more money it would take to solve all the problems (over 200 billions dollars). But why isn't the Greek government not confiscating it? Problem: it's all out of the country in foreign banks!

    May 30, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • Jake-413451

      "Greek private money amounts to...why isn't the Greek government not confiscating it?"

      Because at no time has "From each according to their ability, and to each according to their need" ever worked to accomplish anything other than increase the personal enrichment of the politically connected, while disenfranchising everyone else.

      At least when a government gives some respect for private property those who aren't "in bed with" those in power still have a chance to be successful.

      May 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  3. seawolf73

    It's easy, put the mistake on the Greeks, anyway we dont like them (like the judes, the italians, the arabs etc.) Germany is correct and it is the fault of the Jud..oh sorry the Greeks dude...lets put camp or labor for the Greeks too... I say leave the G-man with their sausages and ARBEIT SHNELL

    May 31, 2012 at 12:46 am | Reply
  4. International Fish

    Hey Greece... Please start taking responsibility for turning your house upside down with money you didn't have and start getting it in order without blaming other countries for your woes. Germany is right to hold the money until you can show restructuring and HOW you plan to have growth. I've yet to hear what the actual Greek plan is on both accounts in some kind of detail. All I hear is that your plan is to reject Germany's ideas. Maybe if you take some tips from them, you too can be as prosperous as they are some day. And pleases.... stop the ignorant and idiotic childish 'Nazi' references. Germany takes care of ALL of its people, including ethnic minorities more than you ever did since WW II. They spend A LOT on social services, worker rights, etc.. while being innovative and having a flourishing economy. They've turned 180 from their Nazi past... and now we see Greeks welcoming a Nazi party into parliament! Meanwhile, the US (I'm American by the way), UK and other countries are nervous that Greece's woes are going to affect their economy and now turn to blaming Germany since that is their only alternative.... This whole polarizing game makes me sick! Greece should be kicked out of the pool if they don't want to swim in the water.

    May 31, 2012 at 1:21 am | Reply
    • Christina Cowan-Mytilinaiou

      Unfortunately, too many people have been peeing in said pool, without owning up. At the root of all of our current economic problems is the barbarous abuse of a seriously flawed system. If other nations are blaming Germany, I doubt very much that it is because Greece is pointing the finger. They are obviously capable of their own judgement, based on their own interpretation of events. If this "polarizing game" makes you sick, please stop fanning the flames, and perhaps more people of serious thought will start to speak out against the systems, organizations and laws which have allowed this dreadful situation to exist.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • kantanoleon

      "Maybe if you take some tips from them (Germans), you too can be as prosperous as they are some day".

      You made me laugh here. Check where German exports were going during the last 30 years. They borrowed Greece in order to be able to order German products all these years and they forced Greeks doing that. Check the Siemens scandal. Check the military submarines scandal.

      badly informed or partially informed is worse than being uneducated

      also check how prosperous they are going to be soon unless the start huge and unstoppable QEs in order to be able to keep exporting

      May 31, 2012 at 2:56 am | Reply
    • KOSTAS

      DON'T LET YOUR TONGUE SPEAK BEFORE YOUR BRAIN

      May 31, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
  5. costadosol

    Agree with mr. Papandreus and liked Madame Lagarge's pearls.What I need to know is when are these politicians going
    to reduce the ridiculous taxation and bureaucracy they implemented,which led to this demise! When are they going to incentivize small and medium business,when are they going to stop stealing from the pensioners and the teachers and when they going to let people live! Once politicians stop doing what they do best, which is oppress,steal and lie
    then the Euro will stabilize and indeed grow!!

    May 31, 2012 at 1:54 am | Reply
  6. Jim Nestorides

    The problem is quite simple: Corrupt foreign companies overcharged Greece in selling from tanks and airplanes to building new airports. And they used corrupt politicians in Greece to achieve that. The rage in the Greek people derives from the fact that the people are asked to pay the bill. Collectively as if they managed the country's finance together with their government.
    If you are a lawful citizen and pay your taxes and work in the private sector (the majority of the people) you cannot be paying for those guys who spent all this money and took those loans. Of course the people selected the corrupt politicians who sent them to the IMF with their deeds, but what happens in Greece is collective punishment.

    May 31, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
  7. Tutuvabene

    No, the Greeks aren't problem. The EU is the problem for giving the Greeks all this bailout money. The Greeks, like others in the EU need to live within their means. If that means capturing more of the Greek wealth that's missed through tax evasion and overseas tax shelters, so be it.

    May 31, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
    • Carlo

      It's funny now how the main stream media if you watch the right chenanl . Not fox . not cnn . More like R.T and bbc is more truthfull . Alex Jones has sent shock waves through the media ! It's really a good thing . About time

      July 9, 2012 at 4:10 am | Reply
  8. Tutuvabene

    If the Greeks want to maintain multiple money losing state owned enterprises, a free health care system, the 13th and 14th salary foolishness, etc., they need to find ways to pay for such things themselves and not through loans.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:02 am | Reply
  9. Penttijuhani

    The EU has a serious construction weakness; it cannot work in the long run unless all members respect generally accepted rules, specially about their statistics and budgets. None of them has done that in practice. None has suffered any real consequences for the rule-breaking.

    The EU and its ECB should dispose of a federal financial police force, with the right to initiate investigations. That was clear from the very beginning. Yet that need has been replaced by special rights for its officials not to be responsible, not to divulge information that should be public. I.e. the whole system was weak, ridiculous; today it is rotten too.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Reply
  10. Yik

    Isn't it the EUs main problem, that too many, VERY different economies were tied together too fast, without really being 'compatible' at all? It WILL fall apart, the only question is WHEN.

    May 31, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
  11. john Doughboy

    OK, Pappy George, if Greece is not the problem,then who and what is the problem. Tell us :"Pappy" so we can try to fix it permanently and help Greece. Kala emera !!

    May 31, 2012 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • sandrkar

      it's kalimera and Greece is a symptom of the euro crisis, not the cause.However It is the first to sink because of dismanagment..

      May 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
  12. Heinz M

    Te Greek problem is twofold. First they lied and cheated with their accounting to get into the Euro, which is the way Greeks do business (personal experience).
    But their biggest problem is, that they discourage new businesses via anti business regulations and a bureaucracy that is totally corrupt, and only help businesses if the get enough graft. And new businesses, starting out, simply don't have the money to pay nor to wait a year to get their licenses.
    Thus the whole government by not fixing this, are stalling their economy. One example, olive oil which could be a big, profitable business, is being sold to Italy at low wholesale, to avoid having to fight the government rules.
    Yea, and Greece is not at fault?
    George Papandreou is so full of it, it is leaking out of all of his orifices.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
  13. Lauro Silva

    They will never say the truth and always having a narrow escape. Greeks are a large part of the problem for sure. They have abused the EU´s benevolent benefits for many years. Now there´s no way out other than to face the bitter consequences.

    May 31, 2012 at 11:19 am | Reply
  14. john Doughboy

    George, identify the problem and solve it. You're in the driver's seat. Now do it, not tomorrow for it may be too late.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Reply
  15. PHIL H. LATIMIER

    THE GREEK PROBLEM TODAY IS GROWTH.
    THE EUROPEAN PROBLEM TODAY IS GROWTH, ALSO.
    ALL WE NEED TO GET RID OF THIS DEBT CRISIS IS TO URGENTLY BOOST GROWTH.
    ONE EFFICIENT AND STRAIGHFORWARD WAY TO DO IT IS TO DEVELOP MAJOR INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS WHEREVER NECESSARY IN EUROPE.
    THOSE PROJECTS WILL BE 100% FUNDED WITH THE PROCEEDS OF BONDS UNDERWRITTEN BY ALL EUROPEANS WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTION MEANING HERE ON A MANDATORY BASIS.
    THE BONDS WILL BE REDEEMABLE/CALLABLE BEFORE THEIR MATURITY DATE AND WILL BE 100% GUARANTEED BY THE ECB.
    PROJECTS WILL BE DEVELOPED WHEREVER NECESSARY IN EUROPE AND WILL BE PROVIDING MILLION JOBS AND GROWTH.
    THE MONEY IS THERE...NOW WHAT WE NEED IS SOME STRONG COMMITMENT FROM OUR POLITICIANS !
    PROF PHIL H. LATIMIER, Ph.D.
    http://www.conversationprivee.com

    May 31, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  16. OPA the Greeks

    The Siemens scandal is only but the tip of the iceberg. Siemens did the same thing all over the world with the same scandalous thievery:
    Bribe the politicians and charge the goods you don't need,ten times the price. Ask the South Africans, for they know also how rotten the German companies are. The Greeks were in the hands of horrible thieves doubling as politicians, and they paid a heavy price. The only thing to do now, is to bring in the death penalty in, and the recovery of the stolen money will be easy. Only then the country will get out of the slump. It will be a good way to show everybody they mean business.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Reply
  17. El Greco Loco

    Papandreou sure got balls talking about this crisis when he ran his whole election campaign on the promise that "there is money", "trillions" he said.he then said that Greece would never seek an IMF rescue and he also said that Greece would be back to growing its economy by 2011. He has told many stories of this sort, he has ZERO credibility, so why is Amanpour interviewing this guy? He belongs in the fiction section.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Reply
  18. Greco Masκara

    To much hate for nothing. Pretty much all the politicians in greece are saying that the "wise" people of this country NEVER did something wrong. In other eu countries their many politicians are saying to their own people that they also did something wrong and that they are victims of the "bad" greek spanish italian portuguese people who took their money to bail their asses out !! In other words politicians are driving their own nations to conflict with other eu nations and that is ALWAYS for their own personal benefit. So i think the best solution is to close are eyes and ears to all these nonsense fuss

    June 1, 2012 at 7:38 am | Reply
  19. niok

    this man hasn't worked even for 1 day in his whole life
    .
    how can he talk about anything..

    the most useless and ignorant politician ever.
    became a prime minister! because of his dad.

    October 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
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