NEWS

PM speaks in defense of Portugal and Spain

Prime Minister George Papandreou, on another whirlwind tour of Europe this week, took time out of his busy schedule to stick up for Spain and Portugal, which like Greece are members of the so-called PIGS group of countries regarded as having flawed economies and which might need to be bailed out in the near future. Speaking at a meeting of European Socialists in Warsaw, Papandreou acknowledged that Greece had been «responsible for some very bad practices» but said that Portugal and Spain did not warrant «suspicions, rumor and maltreatment.» Both countries have seen their bond spreads soar in recent weeks over speculation that they would be the next countries to ask for financial assistance from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after Greece and Ireland. «Socialist Portugal and Spain in no way could be accused of irresponsible governance or bad fiscal policies,» he said, blaming the previous New Democracy government and the excesses of the financial markets for the crisis in Greece. Papandreou later traveled to Astana in Kazakhstan to attend a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He said it was of strategic importance for Greece to play an active part in the OSCE. He also suggested that Greece and Kazakhstan could cooperate in the areas of manufacturing, agriculture and tourism. «We always try to improve our bilateral relations and in this case it is in an area that has been forgotten by Greece,» said Papandreou. «But it is an area that is very significant for our country because it is a global energy hub, there are plenty of areas where we can cooperate and there are historical and cultural ties between our countries.»