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Former Greek PM Papandreou: We expected more from Europe

February 21st, 2013
06:25 PM ET

It may surprise you, but the best-performing stock market in Europe in 2012 was Greece’s.

The Athens index rose 33%, outpacing even Germany’s DAX.

But the news is not symptomatic of Europe’s health as a whole, where the overall economy continues to contract.

And after so long underwater, the Greek market may just be making up for lost ground.

Greek officials now predict that the economy will start growing by October, as European support lends a measure of confidence to foreign and domestic investors.

So, is a Greek exit from the euro – a Grexit – finally off the table?

Judging by events unfolding there, not yet.

A nationwide strike on Wednesday shut down government services throughout the country. Roads and railways were bare as transportation came to a standstill.

Once again, the young took to the streets to do battle with police – some 60% of them remain without jobs.

Greece has the highest unemployment rate in Europe. The country owes more than it makes: the national debt is 161% of GDP.

The human factor is tragic: Suicides, and people losing their homes, unable to pay for food, or for heavily-taxed heating oil.

In the video above, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou speaks to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour about the early days of the country's economic crash and future of Greece in the eurozone.

Filed under:  Eurozone • Greece
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. jimmy lim

    Greece will never get out from this mess, shackle and spiral perpetrated by EU. Greece will forever be beggars begging for aid from EU from now on. Greece lacks discipline, belief, self esteem and morals to be able to standup and fight again to be self reliant and independent.

    February 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • Stephen

      Much like the entire Western world. Living beyond their means, passing the debt along – just like the US. To imply all of Greece lacks discipline would be like myself implying all the US people lacks morals and self esteem like wise. Pretty simplistic and overt conclusion jimmy lim.

      February 21, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  2. Joe

    The Greek people have spent generations doing everything in their power NOT to pay any taxes....and the Greek Gov't has spent generations stealing what little tax money is paid. What do you think was going to happen???

    February 22, 2013 at 12:45 am | Reply
  3. jimmy lim

    Greece is in such a deep abyss that they simply cant get. From now on, they will depend on Germany and EU's generosity to continue to feed them. It is not about job anymore. Its about survival. Greeks should not have allowed themselves to get into this mess in the first place – corrupt politicians, spendthrift, unproductive greeks, siestas, no tax, too reliant on social welfare etc. Unless Greece gets out EU and follow Iceland example, Greece will need 3rd, 4th and 5th bailout and forever on charity from Germany n EU. Isnt that lacking discipline, self belief and self esteem to be able to stand on their own? Is dependent on charity when one is fit and able good discipline and good self esteem, Stephen?

    February 22, 2013 at 12:45 am | Reply
    • chris

      Your reply is a very simplistic"cliche" ,"unproductive greeks, siestas", according to Eurostat ,greeks ranking in 1st place in working hours among europeans and 2nd less days of vacations and free time , verify the numbers and dont generalize by blaming the people . It is rong!

      February 23, 2013 at 10:47 am | Reply
      • jimmy lim

        If this is not all the reasons stated above, can you pls tell the whole world WHY is Greece is in such a deep hole? Dont just say "It is rong". so we can judge whether you can rationalize sensibly.

        February 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • alexander hed

        Just because your at work long hours, doesn t mean that you really work or that youre Greece there is people who just collect their salaries and nothing else..also many in the public sector dont know their work.

        February 24, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  4. Jim

    Unfortunately, the problem is that majority of the Greeks are paying for the minority of public sector/government employees that were indeed lazy and corrupt. Corrupt politicians for decades were giving them jobs which they didn't do, and now the private sector employees must pay the bill.
    The worst is, that this situation came to be by the two major political parties governing Greece, just like the Republicans and Democrats in the US, the CDU and SPD in Germany etc. And now, the Troika (IMF/EU/ECB) along with the domestic media are still supporting those two corrupt parties that are sinking us more and more into poverty and bankruptcy...

    February 22, 2013 at 4:07 am | Reply
    • Fenno

      Hey Jim, it wasn't just the public sector and government that was corrupt – it was much more. Add to that the government was not prepared to actually impose and collect adequate tax, and from all workers. And the poor work ethic (yes, it's a generalisation, but it was widespread). Yep, the current tax payers will have to pay, and yes, it is unfair. It's also unfair to Germany and other nations who are prepared to financially support Greece in this difficult time – and doing so without any gurantee of any payback. Can you think of a better way to ensure the next generation of Greek tax payers and politicians (regardless of political persuasion) don't make the same mistake by having to rectify the current one from their own hip pocket?!

      February 22, 2013 at 4:53 am | Reply
    • jimmy lim

      Yes the Troika medicine and recipe is wrong for greece. That is bcos Troika refuses to accept reality and EU refuses to let Greece exit bcos of political ego. IMHO, for the good and betterment of Greece, Greece must exit and revert back to drachma to find its equilibrium. That is the only way to seal a punctured and leaking balloon. Otherwise the northern will continue to dominate the south

      February 22, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  5. jimmy lim

    Greece is now like a punctured n deflated balloon n a bottomless pit. i m surprise that EU economists are seeing it coming. As long as Greece is within EU n Euro, Greece will continue to remain deflated ni matter how much is pumped into the punctured balloon

    February 22, 2013 at 5:42 am | Reply
    • IM

      Jimmy lim, Im very sceptical about what you say. Do you have facts about economic growth and stats about greece's perspective? Can we make ourselfes prophets of an upcoming economic disaster only by commenting the Momentum? How about Politics? The EU is an ever-changing and evolving union of countries. I think you are judging by the facts that we have from the past without taking concern about the future prospects of the global economy and the change that is now happening in the EU. What we are seeing is a slow violent process of turning the EU from a International/Transnational Organisation into a federation of States. That could never be avoided. That's how Europe thinks, that's why Greece and all the countries with the same Problems will never be turned down. Europe says: Politics first, economy follows..

      February 22, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
  6. dimitris

    With his intelligence and morality no wonder Greece is in serious trouble. He is a disgrace.

    February 22, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • b

      Papandreou has 3 groups of fanatics against:
      1) far right
      2) Communists
      3) partisan political corruption

      February 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  7. jimmy lim

    Yes Papandreou is so shameless. He is asking for more. More handouts n bailouts maybe?

    February 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Reply
  8. jimmy lim

    In the main, Papandreou and Pasok are the cause and culprit for the mismanagement of the Greek economy together with other factors. And he has the audacity to talk and pass the buck to others. He should retire and disappear disgracefully

    February 23, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Reply
  9. cons

    He expected more from Europe!!! I expected more from a prime minister! He showed no initiative, no creativity and had no idea how to deal with Greece's debt while in power.

    February 24, 2013 at 7:16 am | Reply
    • Chris

      Sheer arrogance from a country that put itself in this predicament then expects to be bailed out. You are right Cons. This is the same country that is still buying weapons,(most recently from France), for their psuedo arms race with their eternal enemy Turkey. What a joke of a country. How about collecting your taxes, ridding yourself of corruption, stop spending more on the armed forces than any other country in Eurpoe per capita and stop paying multiple government benefits to your population. Give that a go and see how it works.

      February 25, 2013 at 3:26 am | Reply
  10. alexander hed

    Has George Papandreou been suffering????

    February 24, 2013 at 8:47 am | Reply
    • Rick Wired

      He escaped to Sweden. That's why he speaks fluent Swedish.

      February 26, 2013 at 10:05 am | Reply
  11. dov goldberg

    Yea,tis axiomaticaly true that it has been a greek national sport to hide wealth and avoid tax contributions. It's part of a great post second world war hangover of poverty and distrust. But even these conditions were managable when greece was not part of the monolithic circus of the european onion. The euro is an artificial currency which is constantly overvalued. The national government of greece could never have borrowed the huge sums of money from currency markets with the drachma. It would have been poorer, but less in debt. The EU is disaster collosus

    February 24, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
  12. Liliana Rigon

    It's a shame the way George Papandreou is speaking, it's a shame you even invited him for an interview ........he and his dad are a shame for Greece how could you ever give him this great honer to appear in your show...telling you lies he and his dad told us for over 25 years!!!

    February 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  13. Rick Wired

    Oh please people! Greece has had severe problems long before the EU existed. It has had dictatorships and all sorts of problems since World War II. The problem areas of Western Europe since World War II have been its southern parts – dictarorships, maffia-rule, corruption, economic developmental retardation, etc. Who are we kidding trying to blame this on the EU?

    February 26, 2013 at 10:03 am | Reply
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