Greek prime minister says Greece to rely on its people to overcome economic crisis

09:50, November 15, 2010      

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Greece can overcome the current severe economic crisis by relying on the Greek people, said Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou Sunday.

"The 'Kallikratis' plan is a fundamental source to face the current crisis that has hit the country hard," Papandreou said after casting ballot for the second and final round of local elections.

It is a way to exit the crisis relying on our own strength, investing on our human potential to create a better country Greeks deserve, according to him.

Nationwide Greeks vote in runoffs for municipal and regional administrations amidst an acute debt crisis. The first round of elections on Nov. 7 had been turned into a crucial referendum on the government's painful austerity policies to tackle the crisis, which could pave the way for early general elections, as the socialist ruling PASOK party held ground with minor losses.

Papandreou made it clear that he does not intend to call snap elections in the short future, and this time he focused on the main issue of local elections, restructuring local government through the "Kallikratis" plan.

Named after one of the architects of the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis hill, the "Kallikratis" plan reduces the number of regions across Greece to 13 from the previous 67 prefectures and the number of municipalities from 1,014 to 325, aiming to save billions of euros and increase the state mechanism' s efficiency.

Polls are scheduled to last from 07:00 a.m. local time (05:00 GMT) until 7:00 p.m, and the first projections on the final results are expected in two or three hours.

However, 40 percent of the 9 million eligible voters remained absent last Sunday, insinuating citizens' discontent with the political status quo subsequent to the crisis.

"Democracy in Greece was established through difficult struggles and large participation of citizens. Democracy needs struggle," he said.

President Papoulias called on voters to turn out in the elections, saying people can not sit on their sofas and just talk about struggle.

Opposition parties and labor unions have vowed to continue struggle against the terms of the multi-billion financial aid package of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which the government agreed on in May in exchange of austerity measures.

Greek budget deficit for 2009 will be revised from the current 13.6 percent of the GDP to over 15 percent by 15 Euro Statest, and trigger more painful cutbacks on state expenses.

A group of EU-IMF auditors will start a new round of consultations with Greek officials in Athens Monday on next steps of Greece in the following months to secure the next tranches of aid to cut the deficit and exit the crisis by 2014.

Left parties have organized two separate protests in front of the parliament building over austerity measures and discussions with EU-IMF inspectors.

Source: Xinhua


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