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A great speech by the PM of Greece. How soon until an American President says similar words?

3 March 2010

A great speech, more powerful and truthful by far than anything said so far by President Obama.  Truly the sight of the gallows focuses the mind.  How soon until an American President says such things?  Not long (and only if we’re lucky), unless we get smart and work together.  Note this was a speech not to the nation, but to his political party.

Greek Prime Minister says ready to fight off bankruptcy“, Reuters, 2 March 2009 — “Prime Minister George Papandreou on Tuesday told members of his ruling socialist PASOK party that the government was ready to pay the short-term political price of rescuing the country from bankruptcy. Here are highlights from his statement…”

International Impatience

  • “This government has been fighting for five months now a daily battle everywhere, and even if it sounds dramatic, this battle is not for the future, it is for today, it is for now, it is to save the country.
  • “We need to take tough decisions, decisions that can be unfair.”
  • “We would like to have more time in order for the results of our big structural reforms to be evident … But we don’t have this time today, the international conditions will not give us the time.

Europe Threatened

  • “Without brave decisions from us and from them (the EU) the whole of Europe and Europe’s economy is threatened.
  • “We have the responsibility to do what we can to win back our country’s credibility.”
  • “Our debt has reached the 300 billion euros, well above our country’s 240 billion euros GDP.”

Credibility

  • “Today no European Commission agency and no analyst doesn’t believe the Greeks when they say they will crack down on tax evasion and increase tax revenue.
  • “On Oct. 2 they (the previous conservative government) consciously lied in the name of the Greek Repbulic to those we are trying to convince now. They sent ficticious figures which concealed the truth.”
  • “This cannot be easily erased from the memory of our (EU) partners and we will not repeat that history.”

No  Cowardice

  • “We must make a new beginning. We have to turn crisis into opportunity. Our sacrifices will pay off if we all take on the fight to turn things around.”
  • “I know that sacrifices will be difficult … but now the first task is the struggle for national survival.”
  • “Given the burden that wage earners will have to bear, I will not tolerate any cowardice in my government in the fight against the privileges of the few.”
  • “Once we overcome our immediate financial problems, the crisis will become the greatest opportunity we have had in recent years to create a different country, a country that will never be threatened again by such a crisis.”

Civil Service on its knees

  • “Today the government is forced to ask for the contribution of all citizens, to ask civil servants to make ends meet with less. I am asking them to demand from their management to cut waste and introduce more transparency. Today the civil service is on its knees and its restoration is a condition of survival.
  • “An entire era ends for our country and a new chapter begins.”

Threat of bankruptcy

  • “For 5 months now the government fights and negotiates to convince the sceptics that the country is determined to move forward.”
  • “I will fight to save the fatherland from whatever the nightmare possibility of bankruptcy might entail.”
  • “I will not let the country go down, whatever the temporary political cost, whatever the reactions, however difficult the decisions might be. We are in a state of war against the negative scenarios facing our country.”
  • “I will take every decision required to avoid the worst to save our economy and our autonomy.”

Budget landmines

  • “If anyone thinks that this (default) is a remote nightmare scenario, they don’t realise what the situation is.”
  • “Each day we discover new holes, new landmines, in the budget deficit.”

Untrustworthy

  • “Today our sovereignty and our autonomy have been hurt by (EU) supervision and by the appetites of the markets and our creditors. This requires decisions today, not tomorrow.
  • “Our own lack of credibility has also made the European Commission untrustworthy. It has to explain why it failed to prevent the slide of our economy.
  • “We need the support of our partners, who… must convince their own citizens that Greece will do what it has to.”

On government determination

  • “Now is the time for the entire country to turn the page.”
  • “In this hour of historic decisions citizens expect every one of us to assume his responsibilities. We are ready and determined to assume our responsibilities. We are not deserting.”
  • “We are aware of the temporary political cost that our decisions will have.”
  • “When we finish our first term, we will be able to proudly say that we saved the country from disaster.”
  • “The time has come for us to change our habits, it’s our duty to change everything in our country.”

For more information about the crisis in Europe

  1. Can the European Monetary Union survive the next recession?“, FM website, 11 July 2008.
  2. Timebomb for the Euro: Greek Debt Poses a Danger to Common Currency“, Der Spiegel, 8 December 2009
  3. What’s Going On in Greece? What does it mean?, FM website, 26 December 2008
  4. Grεεk dεbt disastεr“, Tracy Alloway, blog of the Financial Times, 18 January 2010 — Excellent summary of what is probably a ”no exit” situation
  5. Is Greece heading for default?“, Oxford Economics, 29 January 2010
  6. Goldman: If Greece Is Handled Wrong, All Of Southern Europe Will Fall Like Dominos And 30% Of Euro GDP Would Be At Risk“, Business Insider, 5 February 2010
  7. News from the front lines of the economic wars, 13 February 2010
  8. Greece – Our Debt, Your Problem“, Paul Kedrosky, Infectious Greed, 15 February 2010 — Nothing is what it seems to be in the fun room of global finance.
  9. Greece and the welfare state in ruins“, Robert J. Samuelson (journalist), op-ed in the Washington Post, 22 February 2010 — We loved it so long as we need not pay for it.
  10. Greece Holds Back Bond Sale in Game of ‘Chicken“, Ignis Says, Bloomberg, 24 February 2010
  11. German Banks Turn Their Backs on Greek Bonds‎“, Der Spiegel, 26 February 2010 — “Greece needs to refinance 20 billion euros’ worth of debt by May”

Afterword

Please email me if you have a correction to this post.  Or email me if you wish to make a comment and either have expertise in this field or are mentioned in this post. Send messages to fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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