Crisis is not only Greeks problem, ex-minister says

Crisis is not only Greeks problem, ex-minister says

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Crisis is not only Greeks problem, ex-minister says

A woman walks outside a branch of Eurobank in Athens. The four biggest Greek banks received 18 billion euros in rescue funds on May 28.

The ongoing economic crisis is not just a Greek problem, but it is also a systematic European problem, a former Greek finance minister has said.

“I think everybody has understood that just by prosperity itself, whatever a country does, if you have not solved the issue of confidence in European banking and the European financial market, then you won’t get out of the crisis,” George Papaconstantinou told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday.

George Papaconstantinou was attending the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia organized in Istanbul on 6 June. Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Papaconstantinou said he didn’t blame Europe for Greece’s own problems, but at the same time Europe could have reacted earlier in helping Greece to get its economy back together.

“The problem that we had for a long time was that the Greek state was spending much more than it was receiving. And then the markets dried up. Then we had a long period in which we were running the system deficit. This period couldn’t create the kind of structure which was necessary to make the economy more competitive. The truth is that Europe has made some very big steps in the last two years, but it was too late on certain issues,” Papaconstantinou said. He also said the EU was excessive in certain issues and demanded a very fast, physical consolidation.

“But it did create a rescue mechanism. So the challenge now is to use that and go forward,” he said.
Papaconstantinou also expressed his opinion that the forthcoming elections in Greece will probably be a choice between two different paths:

“One is a coalition that is pro-Europe and pro-reform that will agree to continue this program, but will also argue that there needs to be changes somehow. The other option is to go for the political forces that want to tear up the agreement and put Greece’s position in Europe in danger.”

Papaconstantinou said the vast majority of Greek citizens wanted to stay in the eurozone. “I believe very strongly that Greece’s future is within the Europe and it should take advantage of the packages offered by the EU.”