NEWS

PM admits mistakes but turns on ND

Putting aside internal disputes and coordination problems, Prime Minister George Papandreou used his speech at PASOK?s national council on Friday to highlight the lack of cooperation from New Democracy on economic issues.

Squabbles between ministers, such as the row that broke out between Interior Minister Yiannis Ragousis and Defense Minister Evangelos Venizelos over the handling of the hunger striking ministers, and the apparent absence of coordinated policy making by the government were expected to be among the main themes to dominate the meeting of the party?s national council.

Papandreou accepted that ?mistakes happen? and that ?people will get angry,? but said that this was a by-product of the process of changing the way the Greek state works.

However, he was adamant that the Socialists are determined to work through their problems and stick to the effort of restoring Greece?s public finances to good health. ?We do not plan to escape via elections or abandoning our work, like the last government did,? said the prime minister in a reference to the previous ND administration of Costas Karamanlis.

Papandreou went on to blast the conservatives for constantly criticizing PASOK?s policies and rejecting any efforts to establish consensus among the political parties.

?I don?t expect New Democracy?s approval for our policies, but I do expect the party that almost canceled out a whole generation to have a semblance of respect for the massive effort being made by the Greek people,? he told his audience of PASOK officials.

Papandreou also launched a stinging response to ND?s accusations that he started negotiations with the International Monetary Fund several months before Greece made a formal appeal for financial assistance.

?The only thing they have not charged me with is being a traitor because I was searching for money to save my country,? he said before wondering whether Karamanlis and his minister would have been willing to pay the 110 billion euros to bail out Greece instead.

Papandreou also received a boost from Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who is in Athens for a meeting of the Party of European Socialists, which he heads. Rasmussen said that EU leaders should agree to improved terms for Greece?s loan package.