Europe must act, says PM

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis has called on all European countries to cooperate to combat the global financial crisis, as he took a break from domestic pressures yesterday to deliver a speech in Brussels. Karamanlis, speaking on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the death of his uncle, Constantine Karamanlis, said that people expect «a vision and tangible signs of social responsibility» from their leaders before calling for a united effort to deal with the fallout from the crisis. «We have to smash the insecurity that our peoples are feeling about their jobs, the concerns they have about the survival of their businesses and the anxieties that they have about their savings and loans,» he told European politicians, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso. At home, apart from a bailout package for banks, Karamanlis’s government has yet to announce what measures it plans to introduce to help people through the financial turbulence. It’s thought the subject may be discussed at today’s Inner Cabinet meeting. However, both Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros sought to play down expectations that the ruling conservatives are set to announce a series of handouts when they table the budget in Parliament in December. «The government is constantly taking care of those that need help, in accordance with the opportunities afforded by the economy,» said Antonaros. «The possibility of stretching the deficit even further is severely limited.» A number of New Democracy members believe the government has to take steps to help the less well off. Suggestions have included the freezing of utility bills or loan repayments. Talking about the economy is likely to have been a welcome change for Karamanlis, whose party has been mired in the Vatopedi property exchange scandal. Former government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos, now just a conservative MP, has spent the last couple of days giving interviews to TV stations in which he has denied any involvement in the allegedly corrupt land deal.