And now the big push

George Papandreou will land back in Greek reality with a crash. The prime minister was in his element in Berlin, Paris and Washington and is very skilled in presenting the «Greek problem» within its international context. What has he achieved so far? An as yet vague mechanism of guarantees that will provide Greece with a safety net should it find itself unable to raise money from international markets or pressured by rising borrowing rates. These guarantees, of course, will not be forthcoming without Greece’s mettle first being tested, for in addition to the austerity measures Athens will also be expected to implement the kind of structural reforms that will change its model of economic growth. Other matters, such as the European Monetary Fund and the battle against profiteers, will run their course and historians of the future will be able to say that it all started with the Greek problem and Papandreou’s intervention. Yet these are cures for the future; today they can do nothing to alleviate our illness. Papandreou now faces the following challenges: slashing public spending and getting the state apparatus in order. Papandreou also needs to put his own party at ease, while convincing it that it needs to give him its undivided support for the even tougher changes that are to come. Will he pull it off, or will he be intimidated by cadres such as Christos Papoutsis and everything he represents? The premier is walking a fine line, with the fear of social upheaval on one side and complete paralysis on the other. What the country needs though is a prime minister who has rolled up his sleeves and is ready to tackle the following two goals: full implementation of the stability program and a massive drive to prevent the growth rate for 2010 from falling below 2 percent. To achieve this he will need the help of the country’s best brains, administrators, technocrats and businesspeople, who will not join the effort for a pittance.

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