NEWS

Juncker tries to settle Greek bickering

The head of the Eurogroup, the countries which use the euro currency, Jean-Claude Juncker issued a statement yesterday in an attempt to stop the controversy that has been created over comments he made which alluded to the European Union knowing about an imminent economic crisis in Greece for some time and that a Greek prime minister had admitted to widespread corruption in the country. «Mr Juncker said that a few years ago, when Greece's competitiveness figures indicated that it would find itself in a very difficult economic and fiscal position, everyone in the rest of Europe knew that the country faced a very serious corruption problem,» said a spokesperson for Luxembourg's prime minister. «Despite that, as president of the Eurogroup, he was not in a position to speak publicly because there would be a terrible outcry. «To show that the attitude of Greek authorities to the problem has now changed, he referred to what George Papandreou said after the general election of 2009 about there being a serious corruption problem in Greece.» Juncker's clarification settled the argument about which prime minister he had been referring to. Both Costas Simitis, who took Greece into the single currency, and Costas Karamanlis, Papandreou's predecessor, denied that they had ever publicly or privately claimed Greece was corrupt. Although Juncker may have put to bed one argument, another replaced it yesterday as Papandreou's opponents rounded on him for sullying Greece's name. «His repeated public comments that Greece is a corrupt country did plenty of damage,» said New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras. «Prime ministers do not criticize their countries, they lead them.» Government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis said that ND was displaying «some gall» in criticizing PASOK after handing over the economy in a terrible state.

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