“Keep your faith in Greece!” Article by H.E Georgios POUKAMISSAS, Ambassador of Greece to Romania
Two weeks ago, a compromise deal was struck between the Eurozone Finance Ministers and the IMF, addressing ingenuously the sustainability issue of the Greek sovereign debt. The agreement concluded is enabling the disbursement of about 34 bil. Euros to the Hellenic Government by December 13th. Moreover, it cements Greece’s place in the common currency. Greece has been keeping her pledges and our Eurogroup partners are honouring theirs. Confidence is being restored. The road ahead, which has already extracted its heavy toll on our social fabric, remains difficult and 2013 will not be easy at all. The Greek people are worthy of respect for the sacrifices they have been enduring. In the area of fiscal consolidation our progress is admittedly exponential. Budget deficit from 15% in 2009 has been narrowed to ≤6%, current account deficit has shrunk to less than 5%, and the country is ready to produce primary surplus by 2014. On the other hand, the deep recession generated by the austerity prescription, led to a tantalizing increase of our national debt, which at the year 2020 is expected to be 124% of the Greek GDP. In the course of these years since 2010, our taxation system was simplified, the pension system overhauled, though further adjustments, due to the demography, will become unavoidable. The labour market rigidities have been addressed, closed shops liberalized, healthcare finances restored, a modernizing higher education law was passed and implemented. Greece will carry on with the policies of budget consolidation and structural reforms. On the second front progress is also being registered, slower though than anticipated as privatization is not filling the fiscal gap, owing to the consequences of the recession of the economy. Yet, things are bound to get better. Competitiveness of the Greek economy has been to a great extent restored and foreign investors are invited to participate in transparent, non discriminatory bids of Greek state property. This is not all. The Greek people are determined to maintain their hard-fought political stability embedded in the European Union. The country since June 2012 is run by a 3-partite coalition government under PM Antonis Samaras enjoying a comfortable parliamentary majority. They will carry on. Citizens’ security deteriorating over the last several years in urban centers is improved. Extremism will be kept at bay, so much as it did in other E.U. countries. Keep your faith in Greece and to the resilience of her institutions. My country with the sacrifices of its people and the goodwill of its partners and friends will get out of the present dire straits. Responsibility and solidarity are the key words. We should never lose from sight that ours are democratic societies, democratic legitimacy, transparency and accountability on the national and the all-European level should be strengthened, not weakened. There is still a lot of work to be done as it is crucial, beyond balancing our budget, to pursue decisively the structural reforms that will help Greece usher in a new productivity model, based also on research and innovation. Greece, on the eve of the European Council, prepares herself after having been since October a member of the group of countries favouring taxation on financial transactions, to duly take part in the endeavor to revamp Economic and Monetary Union, thus setting up for the European Union the panoply to avert in the years to come the malaise is currently confronted with.