Avoiding the subject

The speech read by Prime Minister Costas Simitis to members of PASOK’s Central Committee last Thursday also served to confirm the serious failure of his last three years at the head of the government. By choosing now to ask for «renewal,» «new faces in the government’s front line» and «new ideas,» and by promising to launch a policy for «real convergence» with European Union levels, Simitis indirectly but indisputably accepted that he has thrown away four years which could have been politically productive. In a way, he acknowledged that those who frequently criticized him in public for requesting, and receiving, the public’s mandate in April 2000 – without having planned anything for Greece’s subsequent entry into the eurozone – actually had a point. When the prime minister, 10 months before the expiry of his second four-year term, promises that a serious effort for «real convergence» will begin in September, it is as if he is conceding that four years have gone up in smoke. Indeed, Simitis speaks of the future as if there had never been any pressing national demand for convergence to EU standards from 2000 to 2004. He even explains the meaning of «real convergence» as if it has only recently become an issue of national concern. With his mind on forthcoming elections, only one thing interests Simitis now: creating the impression that the government is currently undertaking a project of major significance.

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