Tag Archives: Lucas Papademos

Growth in Greece? Barroso and Papademos say: “Yes, we can!”

Given that the Greek economy contracted by 7 percent of gross domestic product last year and is on course to complete this year one of the sharpest peak-to-trough drops seen in the developed world, the idea of growth in Greece almost seems like a bad joke. Yet growth is the new buzz word in Brussels. Twelve EU states recently signed a letter demanding a greater emphasis be placed on it, analysts are talking about it, European Parliament President Martin Schulz came to Athens to talk about it and politicians are trying to find ways to generate it. Growth is very much the new black, or at least this year’s austerity.

It was in this vein that a meeting between European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos took place in the Belgian capital this week. Although growth is the word on everybody’s lips, the talk of boosting economies and creating jobs in the EU remains rather vague. Tuesday’s talks between Papademos and Barroso did not produce a specific conclusion but they had a much greater focus than we have been accustomed to.

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Saving private wages: heroic act or con trick?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

If you walk along Adrianou Street, which runs alongside the Acropolis, in Athens you can brighten up your stroll by taking in one of the games of three card monte that often takes place there. It’s entertaining to watch the dealers work with their shills to display wonderful sleight of hand and mesmerizing misdirection as they fool punters. But if confidence tricks are your thing, you might be better off walking a few hundred meters up the road and visiting Parliament because the street hustlers have nothing on Greece’s politicians

Within minutes of PASOK’s George Papandreou, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras and Popular Orthodox Rally’s  (LAOS) Giorgos Karatzaferis completing their make-or-break talks with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on Sunday night, statements about battles being fought and rights being salvaged were launched into the Athens night.

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Choose any color you want

There are many reasons why you might not want to be George Papandreou, Antonis Samaras or Giorgos Karatzaferis, but this weekend in particular the leaders of three parties in Greece’s coalition government find themselves in the most unenviable of positions.

They are due to hold talks with Prime Minister Lucas Papademos on the measures that Greece will have to implement to receive further loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. But the leaders of PASOK, New Democracy and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) are walking into a lose-lose situation.

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Ghost dog

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

We all needed a moment or two to recover from Development Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis’s “the dog ate my memorandum” moment this week, but now the dust has settled it’s clear that regardless of whether it was a monumental gaffe or a misguided tactical move, the PASOK official’s plea of ignorance encapsulated the dilemma that’s been plaguing Greece throughout this crisis.

Hovering between confusion and collapse, Greece is suffering from the most extreme state of schizophrenia as it flits from all-out opposition to hands-down acceptance of the terms being attached to the emergency funding being provided by the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

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Which way now, Prime Minister Papademos?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

The late Irish comedian Dave Allen had a great line about why his homeland was his favorite place to ask for directions. “If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here,” was usually the response, Allen said. New Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos is unlikely to be familiar with the musings of the irreverent Irish comic but he’ll be fully aware that his premiership is starting from a particularly disadvantageous point.

The new government will need to immediately rebuild the bonds of trust with Greece’s eurozone partners, which were so spectacularly blown sky-high by George Papandreou on his kamikaze referendum mission last week — not that they were that strong before. A steadying of the listing ship Hellas should be enough to secure the next EU-IMF loan installment of 8 billion euros, all of which will be needed to cover maturing bonds over the next few weeks.

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