ATHENS – Former Greek Premier and previous PASOK Socialist leader George Papandreou, who was hounded out of office in 2011 by protests, strikes and riots against austerity measures he imposed on orders of international lenders, says it was his sticking to those reforms that created a primary surplus now showing up.
Papandreou said he laid the groundwork for a primary surplus that current Premier and New Democracy Conservative party leader Antonis Samaras said his administration created.
The former PASOK Socialist chief Papandreou, who is still a sitting Member of Parliament and spent much of his time lecturing to Ivy League colleges in the United States on governance – and giving lucrative speeches on the lecture circuit – has also blamed the European Union and speculators for creating Greece’s crushing economic crisis.
He took no responsibility for the crisis nor for his party and New Democracy packing public payrolls with hundreds of thousands of needless workers for decades in return for votes.
Papandreou criticized Samaras’ coalition – which also includes PASOK – for failing to acknowledge what he said was the part his administration played in reducing the country’s deficit, although it didn’t make a dent while he was ruling.
Still, he said, his policies led to today’s government being able to reach a primary surplus of 1.5 billion euros ($2.05 billion) – not including interest on the $325 billion owed to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank for two bailouts.
In a statement issued through his press officer in Greece, Giorgos Elenopoulos, Papandreou expressed frustration that members of the government were critical of decisions taken in 2010 and 2011, when PASOK was in power.
Samaras, while out of office before winning in 2012, criticized Papandreou for implementing pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions but embraced them as soon as he won and said they are the only way out of the crisis although they’ve also created record unemployment and deep poverty.
In comments primarily aimed at New Democracy and, Papandreou argued that the primary surplus Greece has achieved now has come about as a result of decisions taken in 2010 and 2011. “Eighty percent of the effort to reduce the huge primary deficit of 2009 happened during the two-year period 2010-2011,” he said.
“At the same time, Greece headed the table for the rate of reforms among all the OECD member states,” he said. He didn’t criticize his own party for its role in Samaras’ government, which he supports and to which he has given his vote when he’s in the country