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Posted on: 22/Nov/2009

PM Papandreou to call meeting of party leaders to agree on graft-fighting measures
Moments after his government’s draft 2010 budget was handed into Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister George Papandreou said he would be calling a rare meeting of party leaders in a bid to reach common ground on ways to combat corruption.

Seen by many as an effort by Papandreou to link Greece’s economic problems to wider issues of graft, bureaucracy and a lack of transparency in the public sector, the premier said that he wanted to begin discussions on ways to tackle chronic issues afflicting the country.

This will involve the leaders of all the parliamentary parties meeting for a discussion that will be chaired by President Karolos Papoulias. Such meetings are rarely convened in Greek politics. Papandreou said that he would wait for New Democracy to elect a new leader, either next Sunday or in a second round of voting the following Saturday, before attempting to convene the meeting.

“The government has taken over at one of the most difficult times that the country has been through since the restoration of democracy, at a time when Greece is at a crucial juncture,” said Papandreou. “The source of our country’s problems is not the global economic crisis, which is just exacerbating a pre-existing situation.”

The prime minister said that he wanted the support of other parties, as well as trade unions, to “strike problems at their root.”

“If we do not make headway, these problems will remain and will trap the country in new crises,” he said, adding that corruption and lawlessness were responsible for “bleeding dry” the Greek economy and the country’s families.

In the meantime, Papandreou has some unrest within his own party to deal with as plans in the draft budget to freeze the wages and pensions of anyone in the public sector earning over 2,000 euros a month has triggered a negative reaction from a number of PASOK deputies, including the secretary of the Socialists’ parliamentary group, Christos Papoutsis, who decried the measure during a debate in Parliament.



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