“Transition in Egypt must be non-violent, Egypt’s youth must be heard” Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou urged Hosni Mubarak during a telephone conversation. Speaking to British BBC4 Radio, Papandreou revealed the content of the conversation he had with Egypt’s president.
Athens and Cairo maintain historical bonds and longstanding friendly relations not only due to the presence of a Greek community and the Orthodox Patriachate in Egypt. Both Papandreou and Mubarak are members of the Socialists International, with Greek PM being the president of the worldwide organization.
Read the transcription of George Papandreou’s interview to journalist Martha Kerny.
GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU: Egypt is a country which is playing a leading role, but can play I’d say an even stronger leading role, particularly Egypt becomes an open and democratic society. I think this would be a sea-change for the Arab world and this would be the hopeful outcome. However that outcome is in no way guaranteed and this is why I’ve been in contact all these past few days with all the leaders in Egypt, and President Mubarak himself. Because I believe that what is necessary is that we do have a transition to democracy and that this is also done in a way which is without violence. We must stop this violence that we have seen in the last few days and it must be done in a way that does bring the fully democracy and freedom that particularly the youth of Egypt are asking for.
JOURNALIST: When you spoke to President Mubarak did you make those points to him?
GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU: Absolutely. I said that now the international community but I am sure that those in Egypt want to see concrete action in transition towards democracy and this is something which we very much support and I think the credibility would be concrete action.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that this concrete action should take the form of President Mubarak himself standing aside before September, before the presidential elections?
GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU:Well, this is a critical question and I understand that focus both symbolically but also in essence of the person of President Mubarak. But in the end I think what is crucial is to focus on the transition itself. The fact that the leader transition which is a true transition to democracy and I think what is necessary now is to see that the regime that is existing does make the necessary moves and changes and brings in the participants and representatives of the Egyptian society so make sure that this is a credible change. In the end whether president Mumbarak is in or out now or later will be historically secondary if we don’t have changes. So my point is lets focus on the changes and lets keep them moving and done in the best of ways and democratic and non violent ways,
JOURNALIST: When you spoke to President Mubarak, do you think that he really understands the need for change that so many people are urging upon him?
GEORGE A. PAPANDREOU: Well, I cannot speak for him myself. This was a conversation we had amongst us and yes he did tell me that he sees that the youth of Egypt do want change and he respects this. Now that is what he said.
Source: Greece’s Prime Minister’s Official Website
See UPDATES ON GREECE-EGYPT-UPRISING : Greek PM to visit Cairo and convey EU’s message to Mubarak