Unity the key, says Papandreou

Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday said that hard work and unity would see Greece through the economic crisis, as the leader of the New Democracy opposition, Antonis Samaras, said that there would be no recovery unless taxes are slashed. Speaking at an event organized by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Papandreou repeated his call for political consensus just 24 hours after there appeared to be only the most basic understanding between him, Samaras and the leader of the right-wing Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS), Giorgos Karatzaferis, when they met for talks. The meeting was boycotted by the Communist Party (KKE) and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) but Papandreou insisted that common ground has to be found for Greece to progress. «A basic precondition for Greece to exit the crisis is for all of us to work together,» he told the audience of industrialists. «We all have the opportunity to leave behind the Greece of yesterday, of parasitism, underdevelopment and of social injustice.» Samaras seemed to aim his criticism mostly at the failings of previous PASOK governments. «A political system of unchecked populism and unprecedented statism is now bankrupt,» he said. The ND leader also suggested that a conservative government would make it a priority to reverse a series of tax hikes that have been introduced by the government this year. «I want us to exit the crisis as soon as possible so that we can cut taxes,» he said. «We will never achieve growth with this taxation system.» Samaras went on to clarify that he does not oppose the support mechanism put together by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund but that he is against the austerity measures the government has agreed to adopt. ND voted against the spending cuts last week. This prompted a response from government spokesman Giorgos Petalotis, who effectively labeled ND’s stance irresponsible. The dispute came as Greece requested the first tranche of its 110-billion-euro bailout package, which IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said would help see the country through the crisis. «I have no doubt the program built by the Europeans without support is one that would help Greece out of trouble,» he said.

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