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Alternate FM Xenogiannakopoulou’s speech during the Parliamentary debate on the 2011 budget (excerpts)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The following are excerpts from Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou’s speech during the Parliamentary debate on the 2011 budget:

·       The battle that Prime Minister Papandreou and the Pasok government have been fighting throughout this time is an ongoing battle on four levels. First, in order for the country to regain its voice, its prestige, and be able to share in shaping European decisions – particularly on the critical issues of direct concern to Greece. The second battle – unprecedented on the European level – was to secure a support mechanism for Greece during this critical time. The third battle was to show that the crisis Greece is going through may have some peculiarities, but that it is part of a wider European crisis. For the European Union to be able, at long last, to formulate a cohesive European response. The fourth battle concerns the major negotiations starting at this time in the European Union on the new framework for the Community Budget and the new financial perspectives for 2013. That is, concerning the future of the Common Agricultural Policy and the Greek provinces and the income of the Greek farmer, the future of the structural funds and the Cohesion policy.

·       What did we achieve at the European Council last week? First of all, the decision on the institutionalization of the permanent support mechanism for confronting crises from 2013 on. Second, express and clear acknowledgment of the efforts being made by our country, which show that the sacrifices of the Greek people are bringing results and being recognized. Third, for the first time there was a statement of the willingness to take all the necessary measures for ensuring the stability of the eurozone and its member states. And fourth, we had the first signs of a cohesive response to the European crisis, from a standpoint not limited to the financial aspect of the crisis, but extending to development and society, for a balanced and sustainable development policy.

·       2011 will certainly be a difficult year for Greek citizens, who, on the one hand, understand the magnitude of the crisis and the need to deal with it. At the same time, however, they feel anger and insecurity, and demand measures that will support them. This is a difficult time for Pasok MPs, for all of us. Because we are well aware that these difficult and necessary measures are measures that are not part of our ideological and political background and values. But we also know that it is our duty at this time to stabilize our country and its prospects with sincerity, boldness and courage.

·       In presenting and calling on Parliament to pass the difficult and necessary 2011 budget, we are making four specific commitments. We acknowledge the sacrifices of the Greek people. Our daily efforts and policies must ensure that these sacrifices are distributed fairly. These sacrifices must bring results. This policy must be developed even more intensively and effectively within a comprehensive development and social framework. And, above all, on this difficult path we are negotiating, we need to commit ourselves, as a government, to going through this together, without leaving anyone behind, supporting the unemployed, supporting those with problems, shaping the necessary social safety net.