NEWS

US joins fight against speculators

Prime Minister George Papandreou said yesterday after meeting US President Barack Obama at the White House that Washington is willing to work with the European Union to regulate the international financial system so speculators cannot target countries with troubled economies as they have done with Greece in recent weeks. Papandreou said that the interest shown by Obama in working together with the EU was a «positive message» that meant «order can be restored to the international markets.» The Greek premier did not go into any details about what form this joint action might take but said that the issue would be discussed at the G20 summits in Canada in June and South Korea in November. Apart from economic issues, the two leaders also discussed foreign policy matters such as the reunification of Cyprus, Greece’s relations with Turkey and the Macedonia name dispute. However, it was in the area of bilateral relations that Papandreou was able to announce a breakthrough as he revealed that Obama had agreed to immediately allow Greece to join the visa waiver program, which will allow Greeks to travel to the US without needing a visa. Greece had been the only EU country not included on the list. In a bid to underline his views on the financial situation, Papandreou also wrote an op-ed for the International Herald Tribune in which he emphasizes the steps that his government has taken to get its public finances in order, but he also stressed the need for the US and the EU to work together to combat the threat of speculators. «Despite the radical reforms my government has launched, opportunistic traders have forced interest rates on Greek bonds to record highs,» wrote the prime minister. «Some of these speculators are making a fortune by betting on our nation’s misfortune. «If global economic growth is to be sustainable, we need better coordination and greater solidarity between nations. If we let market forces alone dictate the terms, our fragile economic recovery will almost certainly falter.» Papandreou said it is vital for Washington and Brussels to work together to provide better regulation of the global financial system. «The crisis in Greece should be a wake-up call for bold reforms well beyond my own country,» he wrote. «Democratic governments worldwide must establish a new global financial architecture, as bold in its own way as Bretton Woods, as bold as the creation of the European Community and European Monetary Union. And we need it fast.»