EU also to blame in Greek crisis, Papandreou tells CNN

European Union monitors and ratings agencies bear some of the blame for Greece’s debt crisis that has plunged the continent into financial turmoil, former Greek prime minister George Papandreou said.

In an interview with CNN’s «Fareed Zakaria GPS» show Sunday, Papandreou said his predecessors «didn’t really see it coming,» as far as the debt crisis was concerned.

“Had there been a stronger monitoring of the European Union from the European Union and even from the ratings agencies — on the member states, I would not have, as a prime minister, inherited a situation where the deficit was close to 16 percent and the debt almost doubled in the previous government,» he added.

“That’s why I think monitoring is important. We’re paying for this right now. And many of the Greeks are unjustly paying for this because they’re paying for things that they weren’t responsible for.”

Papandreou, who is due to meet with visiting US Vice President Joe Biden in Athens on Monday for eurozone crisis talks, heads the socialist party know as the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or Pasok. He stepped down as prime minister in November to make way for a national unity government.

His ouster was triggered by a second EU-IMF debt rescue agreed in October with even tougher austerity measures for Greece that proved hugely unpopular.

The new coalition government headed by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is planning tough austerity measures to meet the terms of the new bailout.

Papandreou urged patience, saying «the magnitude of changes we are making in this country we have never done over the past 30, 40 years.”

And he expressed optimism that the changes mean Greece now has a «more sure prospect» of improving its moribund economy.

European Union leaders are due to gather in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to thrash out a way to save the 17-country single currency bloc, likely with proposed treaty changes to create closer fiscal union and economic governance.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have vowed to unveil proposed EU treaty changes to create what Merkel has dubbed a «European fiscal union with strict rules» and the French leader calls «true economic government.» [AFP]

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