Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s reassurances at the recent PASOK Cabinet were comforting and optimistic. The government, he said, will not abandon or review its policies and commitments while all programs that have been announced will be implemented according to plan – despite the uncertain international conditions in the wake of the US terrorist attacks… Of course, the growth rate will fall, public spending will be trimmed, while the interest rates cut aimed to encourage demand will inflate the budget, but despite all this, we, in this part of the world, will manage to survive unscathed… True, it is necessary to keep calm and remain optimistic, but it is also necessary to be realistic. And realism today dictates that given the new environment, Greece will most probably face serious economic problems. When it comes to the economy there is not much room for maneuver; one and one always make two. It is one thing to resort to creative accounting in order to fudge economic indicators so as to enter the eurozone, but it is quite another to have to give money to implement policies when there is no money. In order to find capital, the government either has to produce, sell and earn, to borrow in order to pay… or it has to cut spending in one area in order to save money for another… In this light, the government’s repeated assurances that national growth will be double the EU average does not serve the national interest. Citizens need to realize that there is no reason to panic or to be unduly pessimistic. But both the citizens and, above all, the government need to realize that times are hard and that problems require vigilance in order to be solved.

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