Polls to determine Greece’s future for decades, says PM
ATHENS ELECTIONS on Sunday will define Greece’s future for decades to come, outgoing Prime Minister Lucas Papademos said on Wednesday, urging his successors to stick by unpopular and vital austerity measures.
“Greece’s strategic course will be determined in these elections, its future for the coming decades,” Papademos told the final cabinet meeting of his coalition government.
In November, 64-year-old Papademos, former vicepresident of the European Central Bank, was brought in as a non-partisan safe pair of hands to steer Greece through its debt crisis and prevent bankruptcy and possible eurozone ejection.
As the head of a rare powersharing coalition that included the socialists, the conservatives and initially the farright nationalists, Papademos helped finesse an unprecedented bond swap that reduced Greece’s debt mountain by a third.
Along with this move, reducing the debt to 350 billion euros ($464 billion), Papademos also negotiated a new eurozone loan of 130 billion euros to help cover the country’s financing needs for the coming years.
The price however was a painful raft of austerity measures aimed at slashing government spending and raising taxes, as well as an ambitious programme of privatisations and clamping down on tax evasion.
“The main mission of the government is complete,” Papademos said on Wednesday.
“Greece has avoided the immediate threat of bankruptcy and the best possible conditions have been created — albeit particularly difficult ones — to continue the effort to reconstruct the economy,” he said.
Two years of austerity cuts have been accompanied by a deepening recession that has left over a million jobless in Greece.