NEWS

PM tells Europe ‘now it’s your turn’

After surviving two votes this week that could have brought his government down, Prime Minister George Papandreou on Friday labeled the decisions taken by MPs as ?patriotic? and called on the European Union to step up its assistance for Greece.

Speaking at a meeting of the Socialist International in Athens, Papandreou said that Parliament?s decision this week to vote through 28 billion euros of spending cuts and tax hikes and 50 billion euros? worth of privatizations were ?patriotic decisions to save our country.?

He said that it was now time for the EU to reciprocate. ?Greece has delivered on a very difficult challenge, so it is time for Europe — but also the world — to also deliver,? he said.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to hold talks today to seal the disbursement of a 12-billion-euro tranche of Greece?s initial loan package before discussing the setting up of a second bailout to stave off the country?s bankruptcy.

Turning his focus back to the domestic situation, Papandreou expressed understanding for the Greeks who are protesting peacefully against the government?s unpopular austerity measures.

?We are living in Greece through very rough times and this means that democratic governments must make hard choices in the name of protecting their people and moving their societies forward,? he said.

The Greek premier, however, reserved some strong criticism for the agencies that have downgraded the country?s credit rating to one step before declaring it bankrupt.

?If the ratings agencies come and downgrade us one more notch, then they will have more power in their decisions than the Greek people and Greek parliamentarians,? he said. ?And that is unacceptable if you want to have a democratic world.?