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Professor Athanasios Veremis: Antonis Samaras’ actions are not for the good of Greece

16 June 2011 / 18:06:33  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

Professor Athanasios Veremis teaches Modern Greek History at the Athens University and is the chairman of the National Education Committee of Greece. Two days ago he and ten colleagues of his from various Greek universities supported the medium-term plan for the recovery of the Greek economy and urged the Greeks to close their ears to the "sirens" of populism, to consider prudently the Greek reality and make efforts to take out Greece from the severe crisis. Here's what the professor said in his analysis for GRReporter.

What is your assessment of the events at political level?

I think George Papandreou considered at one point that it is now time to focus on a new type of government involving, individuals and another prime minister. We can not be completely sure, but the responses of the government spokesman to journalists' questions proved that the prime minister has taken such a decision.

Then he changed his mind, or rather he said that he has not changed it, and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras disagreed with some basic issues. And here lies the big question which is whether the prime minister based his decision on the premise of agreement with Antonis Samaras or he intended to leave the premiership anyway.

They failed to agree with Mr. Samaras, who insists on discussions with the European Union on the debt restructuring. This is something I do not think that Europe intends to do anyway. I think these are meaningless statements, which are only meant to be heard by voters. That's like saying "I will not participate in the government, unless God gives me the Ten Commandments." Well, this can not happen, of course, and you do not participate. I mean, Antonis Samaras’ intention not to participate was abundantly clear. Thus the decision to form or not to form such a government remains in the hands of George Papandreou.

We are all waiting to see what government will emerge following the changes. If it involves, for example, Lucas Papadimos, Alekos Papadopoulos, Stefanos Manos and others we would be able to say that this is a reliable government and good for the future of Greece.
I do not think things will change if he just replaces five ministers with another five from PASOK. This could be even damaging because the current ministers have some experience at least.

After everything that happened yesterday, when George Papandreou almost resigned, will he has the face to continue to be prime minister?

Everything depends on the type of the government that he will make. If credible and serious people are part of it we could hope that we would go somewhere, i.e., the lack of faith in the present government will be replaced with a hope of progress with a new and stable government.

But if we see a game in which the participants simply change the chairs, then most likely we will not be very happy. My opinion is that we will lose all hope.

What will happen if they hold early elections for which opposition parties are calling? Last night we heard Antonis Samaras too calling for elections for the first time.

The answer is known. New Democracy will win, but it will not have enough MPs to form government alone. Endless negotiations for agreement will start with PASOK, i.e. what George Papandreou is trying to do now with Antonis Samaras will happen again. This will be a new period of instability with an unknown outcome. Elections are not the solution.

Is the country able to withstand such a long inactivity?

I do not think it is able to withstand it. If this atmospheres continues the country will simply fail. I can not suggest anything else. What Antonis Samaras said is impossible to happen. He would go and negotiate a debt restructuring. I am bringing back the example of God and the Ten Commandments. Well, a man in despair really can quite believe impossible things.

People have proven anyway that they can believe different things.

Yes, this is a fact. We hear everything. From direct democracy, whatever that means, through the national assembly in its ancient form to the "I do not pay", "I do not sell" and the like. These are things that I can say on personal level to those who I owe. But it is not possible a country to say them to Europe, which will answer "You do not pay? You do not pay. Goodbye, see you next year."

Currently, we are witnessing a split in the Greek society. There are those who insist on changes because they see that things can not continue this way. But there are others who do not want anything to be changed.

I think people can not understand because they are economically affected. Their children are unemployed, the pensions for the elderly are cut as well as the salaries, taxes increased. All this made a very large number of citizens hopeless. They are no longer able to think wisely. They think with their emotions and I do not know how far that will take them.

Tags: PoliticsAthanasios VeremisProfessorGeorge PapandreouAntonis SamarasGovernmentAgreementDeputiesTrade unionists
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