It is a good thing for a country when its prime minister declares that he has no intention of mortgaging the future of the economy for some transient political benefits. And it is important for a country’s political leader to reiterate the obvious, namely that overly generous benefits for certain social groups lead to a vicious circle of deficits and, ultimately, the inevitable implementation of much tougher measures to make up for the damage wrought by irresponsible gestures. It would be ideal if this outlook was to become a steady conviction and guiding influence during the entire term that a government is in power, not just when opinion polls show the administration to have a comfortable lead on its opposition. No one should forget that this predominance basically reflects the conviction of the majority of the Greek people that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will push his government’s program of reforms to completion without wavering in his pledges and by sticking firmly to expressed principles. And the truth is that the current circumstances are extremely favorable for the implementation of reforms. The economy is growing at a significantly higher rate than that which had been forecast, which means that the pie is bigger for everyone. A portion of this increase has already been allocated to the poorer classes with increases in low-income support benefits and agricultural pension payouts as well as changes to the tax system. On the other hand, the Greek people are fed up with empty promises and are demonstrating – in each successive opinion poll – their need for sweeping changes. The only thing that is really necessary is a cohesive plan and faith in a stronger Greece in the future – a Greece that is European in its economy, infrastructure and transparency in public life and on virtually every level, as described by Karamanlis in his traditional speech at the launch of the Thessaloniki International Fair yesterday. «In a world that is changing at such a rate, solving problems is not enough on its own,» the premier remarked. «Progress means that we dare to carry out the reforms demanded by the international environment so that we can change more quickly and move forward, well-prepared, strong and united.» «My faith in this country is unshakeable. Greece has the ability to become one of the winners, one of the protagonists of the new era,» he added, before pledging to sign a «responsibility pact» to ensure that the required changes are carried out. Greeks have taken note of this pledge and will remember on the eve of the next elections. And they will judge the current government on the basis of whether it honors this pact or not.