Cooperation is the way forward
Should we expect a government initiative to lay the groundwork for the change in the political arena you are talking about? We did not go ahead with the rest of the major reforms we had committed ourselves to undertaking because of the municipal and prefectural elections. However, we are now ready, at least we in PASOK, and will soon propose a series of democratic changes to the structure of the State, first- and second-tier local government, the functioning of the economy and institutional changes related to the political system. I think that all of these are the quintessence of the time in which we are living. For example, in the economic sector, we realize the need for the unhindered, competitive operation of deregulated markets – electricity, products, street markets, natural gas, telecommunications, banks, insurance companies, a complete deregulation everywhere. Yet we also need supervisory bodies which will, in a democratic way, be responsible for seeing that market conditions are met. We need the Competition Committee, which will truly guarantee that competition is not hindered. At the same time, of course, institutional changes call for democracy. What interests us is a new form of democratic growth, consolidating democratic conditions and economic growth. Meanwhile, the State has to support the country’s reconstruction at the production level. This is very important. Isn’t privatization also important? This is another policy which doesn’t appear to have been completed. Our basic strategy is privatization in the broader public sector. Wherever there is production, of course. I am not talking about social functions. We have chosen the strategy of cooperation between public and private sectors. We will keep in the public sector a percentage sufficient to ascertain a majority on the board of directors; we are asking for the cooperation of the private sector. We are promoting this cooperation through a number of public organizations. We are listing constantly increasing percentages of utilities such as the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), the Public Power Corporation, as well as international joint ventures. In the petroleum sector, we are negotiating with an international group; I believe there will be a positive outcome quite soon. Another form of privatization, such as that of the Public Gas Company (DEPA), is also important, where tenders are called for a strategic investor. This kind of investment, which is not a sale but a cooperation between public and state sectors, is what we need everywhere. This is the time for cooperation, for acting together. Businesses, workers and the State have to work out cooperation agreements, mutually acceptable mid-term prospects, so that we can meet the high goals we have set for ourselves.