NEWS

Papandreou praises government effort

George Papandreou, Greece’s socialist prime minister, on Wednesday praised his government’s efforts in bringing about the outcome of last week’s eurozone summit, that saw the country clinch a fresh debt deal with its lenders, while lashing out at his conservative rivals.

?We have confirmed our participation at the core of the European Union,? Papandreou told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday in a reference to the Brussels deal last Thursday.

Greece was seen by many analysts as gaining some breathing space following a decision for a second rescue package. Euro zone leaders agreed to easier lending terms for the debt-choked nation, and private investors will swap Greek bonds for longer maturities at lower interest rates.

?Armed with the tough decisions that we made and the conviction that we shall see them through, we accomplished everything that the opposition accused us of failing to negotiate, and in fact more than that,? Papandreou said in an attack on New Democracy which has repeatedly criticized the bailout strategy.

The conservative party, headed by Antonis Samaras, is leading PASOK in the polls.

Papandreou told his ministers it’s time to introduce all the major reforms that have been put on hold over the previous decades. He said the main goal was to create primary surpluses in order to stop the ?deficit hemorrhage.?

The premier also reached out to protesting taxi drivers, who have over the past few days damaged the unity of his ruling party. He offered to meet with representatives of the taxi drivers, adding that the government is open to any proposal aimed at upgrading the services of the sector.

Cabbies, who are in the second week of strike action, are protesting government reforms aimed at opening up their sector to more competition. The handling of the issue by Transport Minister Yiannis Ragousis, who went on to revise a bill approved by his socialist predecessor earlier in the year, has come under fire from many of his party’s deputies ? one even calling him to step down.

Papandreou urged cabbies to refrain from forms of protest that disrupt traffic and tourism. About 8,000 cabbies protested the deregulation plans in front of the Parliament on Tuesday.