New attitude

It’s hard not to be surprised at what was said during the first meeting of the new year at the government’s headquarters in the Maximos Mansion. George Papandreou, Greece’s Socialist prime minister, appeared confident that the country «will manage to overcome its own problems,» but he appeared less certain regarding «the problems and the inherent flaws of the eurozone.» To put it simply, what the PASOK chairman implied was more or less this: We have been saved; now we can start rescuing the rest of Europe. His comments must have dumbfounded any serious observer. Contrary to what his political foes – both within and outside his party – would like to think, Papandreou is not a naive politician. He understands that his economic advisers, and above all his Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou, signed the bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union without making any serious effort to negotiate the deal. Their passive attitude was incompatible with the party image cultivated by its previous leaders, the late Andreas Papandreou and his reformist successor Costas Simitis, both of whom liked to brag about PASOK’s gigantic struggle against reactionary groups at home and in defense of national interests abroad – interests purportedly neglected by the right. So, after eight months, which have seen a number of revisions to the memorandum signed with the IMF and the EU, the Greek government is finally making a bold move by calling for the introduction of eurobonds. The person leading this effort is Vasso Papandreou, despite her tense ties with the administration’s economic policy team. Ms Papandreou, who possesses far more experience than most of PASOK’s reformist folk, was reportedly quick to emphasize that the campaign must not be portrayed as a design of Greece or of the European Union’s socialist parties, deeming that this would kill the effort before it had a chance to get off the drawing board. She seems to assume that foreign ambassadors in Greece have no access to the local press. Sure, it would not be fair to condemn Ms Papandreou’s campaign – even if the eurobonds proposal is a nonstarter for Germany. However, just a reminder: Greece’s rescue is far from a done deal.