NEWS

Greece ‘regaining trust’

Greece’s agreement for further cooperation with China is a sign that the country is regaining its international credibility, Prime Minister George Papandreou said yesterday in Brussels, as the trustworthiness of his government on the domestic stage took another blow when it had to replace one of its candidates for local elections after it was revealed that the office seeker had been charged in connection with an alleged property scam. Speaking on the sidelines of the EU-China summit in the Belgian capital, Papandreou presented the deals agreed to last weekend by Athens and Beijing as proof that Greece is beginning to recover from the economic crisis and that its partners can trust the country again. «The visit by the Chinese premier [Wen Jiabao] was a vote of confidence, not only in Greece but in Europe and the euro,» said Papandreou at the end of the meeting, during which Europeans urged China for a faster appreciation of its currency to help rebalance the world economy. However, presented with an opportunity to address foreign journalists, Papandreou was keen to focus on the strides that Greece has made over the last few months. «A year ago, we were on the edge of a precipice, but today the effort and sacrifices of the Greek people are helping us rebuild trust internationally. Greece is not the same country it was last year.» Papandreou also met with Indian Vice President Mohammad Ansari on the sidelines of the talks in Brussels. The two men discussed possible cooperation between the two countries in the areas of tourism, technology, shipping and culture. Papandreou was then due to fly to Belgrade for further talks there. At home, however, his government was experiencing some turbulence in its preparations for the November 7 local elections, as PASOK’s candidate for deputy regional governor for the Cyclades, Dimitris Bailas, was removed from the race. The move came after Kathimerini published an article reminding readers that Bailas, the current Cyclades prefect, along with five others, had been charged in connection with the construction of dozens of illegal homes on several Cycladic islands. PASOK announced that it was withdrawing Bailas’s candidacy but dodged questions about why he had been included on the party’s ticket.