The Greek prime minister who took the country to the IMF, George Papandreou gave an interview to US-based TIME magazine. Talking about Greece to had become the first euro zone country to be forced to accept painful austerities in exchange for bailout loans, Papandreou told TIME, “I think it couldn’t have been avoided. We were a lab rat, an experiment.”
Commenting on the strict austerity measures that have crushed the Greek economy and the people, the former PM said “”I wish we could have done this in a way that was softer on the people, especially those who weren’t to blame, like the pensioners and the workers. But in the end, everybody has paid and paid dearly for this crisis.”
Papandreou spoke about his referendum proposal, in fact an idea that brought him down from power.
“Greek people had to feel like they owned the program, that it wasn’t an imposed program. We had to make a decision. We had to decide whether we wanted the program or not, whether we wanted to stay in the euro or not, whether that would have consequences.”
Papandreou expressed his annoyance about some European Union leaders for refusing to recognize these sacrifices. “Some populist politicians say, ‘It’s not that Greece has a problem, it’s that Greeks arethe problem,'” Papandreou said. “How can a parliamentarian or a leader in a country say, on the one hand, that we’re going to support Greece but at the same time say that Greeks are lazy? I mean, their citizens will say, well, if they’re lazy, then why are we supporting them”. (Further Reading in TIME)
Lazy? Are the Greeks Lazy? If I remember well, the problem apparently was the tax evasion and the bad moral of Greeks. It was Papandreou himself who went around in Europe speaking about the bad Greek habits. “Greece needs to show it is credible” he said, while there was no point at that time, Greece was un-credible. An excerpt form one of his interview in January 2010, just 3 months after he came into power.
Euronews: But are you still in a position to tax the rich and help the poor. Or do you intend to shrink deficit by pay and pension cuts, the Irish way?
Papandreou: Well I think, I would say that we have a number of measures. One is of course the need that we create a more just tax system. A more just tax system means that there will be more tax for the richer. There will be a more equitable distribution. And this I think is also very important to create strong tax consciousness from our citizen because one of our problems in Greece is a wide tax evasion. If we didnt have wide tax evasion, we would not have this deficit problem right now.
After 2,5 years no sign of self-criticism.
PS Ah, whatever….