Jumping on the praise bandwagon, Greece’s former Premier George Papandreou, who stepped down in 2011 during the burgeoning economic crisis that lasted almost a decade, said the once-mocked country became a shining example of how to deal with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
“Having gone through another crisis ten years ago, Greek people realized that sacrifices early on will give us better results later on. And we created a consensus, a wider consensus, and people feel that by working together in solidarity we can deal with this,” he told the news site Euronews.
He said consensus – which he couldn’t bring, resigning after first suggesting and then pulling back the idea of a referendum on austerity demanded by the country’s international lenders – was what brought together usually-divisive Greeks.
“I would appeal to leaders to show this unity that will develop trust. And if trust is developed amongst our citizens then that will be one of the basic tools to be able to recover. Trust, cooperation is crucial in this crisis as it was 10 years ago, but even more so today,” Papandreou said.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has been lauded for imposing an early lockdown on March 23, before even one death had resulted from the virus, closing non-essential businesses and requiring people to stay home except for going to supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, medical visits or businesses allowed open.
Papandreou was prime minister and head of the now-defunct PASOK Socialists that when bust for implementing austerity antithetical to its alleged principles, sought its first bailout, for 110 billion euros ($119.03 billion.)
“We need to act collectively and quickly. Ten years ago we were slow, we did too little too late, that cost us a lot, it caused a lot of pain and we still feel that pain today,” without acknowledging any blame for the slow reaction.
“We need to get away from the blaming and shaming, at that time it was easy to say Greece is a problem, actually it was a much wider systemic problem around the world of the financial system,” he said.
“As we are moving towards economic recovery measures we cannot talk about one country doing better, one doing less, and so on. This is an emergency, the quicker we make strong decisions the quicker we will be able to see recovery.”
“I am proud of the Greek people that have had this self-discipline and solidarity and I think it’s a very important message, a message for all of Europe,” he said.