A joint call for reforms

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, top industrialist Odysseas Kyriakopoulos and – more surprisingly – opposition leader George Papandreou all called yesterday for speedy structural reforms in order to boost the Greek economy. Addressing the annual general assembly of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), Karamanlis said it would be necessary to confront «organized interests» and achieve a «social and political consensus» to put the government’s economic and development policies into action. «Eradicating problems cannot forever be put off for the future,» the PM said. «2005 is a year of changes and reforms.» Karamanlis cited the example of Wednesday’s agreement between OTE telecom and its employees’ unions, which would effectively prevent workers hired in the future from enjoying the permanent employment status which the former state monopoly’s current work force benefits from. «We salute the agreement, which is a result of dialogue and opens new roads for rationalization and development,» Karamanlis said, noting that the deal would be beneficial to the economy in general. «Everyone has a say in the changes and reforms that are required,» he said. «Organized interests, or rather organized minorities, cannot block the way for the whole of Greek society.» Speaking at the same event, PASOK leader George Papandreou voiced similar sentiments, calling for «immediate reforms that will run against vested interests.» The Socialist leader urged «a new generation of important, brave reforms that will help the country progress.» «We must speak honestly, without taboos and preconceptions,» he added, criticizing what he described as «the deeply rooted political belief of statism.» Papandreou also advocated «a new, healthy relationship between the public and the private sector,» and called for stronger private entrepreneurship in the educational system. Kyriakopoulos, the SEV chairman, was openly critical of Karamanlis’s conservative government, which he accused of having failed to meet its electoral pledges. «We are witnessing a gap between the government’s pre-election program and its actions,» he said. «The decisive adoption of radical measures, without delay, and the commitment to time schedules is necessary.»