Opinion

Paul Taylor

Greece’s Papandreou faces Oedipal challenge

Paul Taylor
Feb 23, 2010 12:49 UTC

ATHENS (Reuters) – To pull Greece out of a fiscal crisis that has shaken the European Union, Prime Minister George Papandreou will have to overturn part of his free-spending late father’s political legacy.

“He is very aware that history is making him commit an act of ideological and political patricide,” said a friend of the U.S.-educated Socialist leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of their conversations.

Andreas Papandreou, a firebrand leftist who governed in 1981-89 and again in 1993-96, transformed the country helped by European Union funds. He expanded the civil service and state healthcare, promoted secularism and restored national pride.

But today’s debt-burdened Greece urgently needs to shrink the public sector, curb public spending, clean up corruption and tax evasion, and open swathes of the economy that are shuttered by clientelism, notably of Papandreou’s PASOK party.

The prime minister’s closest advisers, including his brother Nicholas, dismiss talk in Athens that George Papandreou is a latter-day “Oedipus Rex,” doomed like the king in Sophocles’ classical drama to kill his father.

Three-way poker in Greek debt crisis

Paul Taylor
Feb 22, 2010 06:53 UTC

ATHENS (Reuters) – The man at the center of Greece’s debt crisis is surviving on 4-5 hours sleep a night and could not get to his office last week because it was blockaded by striking employees.

“We know we don’t have a blank check,” Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told Reuters in an interview at a temporary refuge in a tax and customs administration building.

“We have public support as long as people feel everyone is bearing the burden equally.”

EU should spell out Greek support: finance minister

Paul Taylor
Feb 19, 2010 08:08 UTC

ATHENS (Reuters) – The European Union should be more specific on how it would support Greece in a crisis, to help lower the highly indebted country’s borrowing costs now, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Thursday.

Concern over Athens’ ability to repay its debt mountain has shaken confidence in the euro and prompted EU leaders to issue a vague pledge that they would take coordinated action, if needed, to preserve the stability of the single currency.

In an interview with Reuters, Papaconstantinou said while Greece respected the euro zone’s principle of dealing with fiscal problems by itself, it did not rule out seeking International Monetary Fund assistance, although it was not actively pursuing that option.

EU should spell out Greek support: minister

Paul Taylor
Feb 18, 2010 19:29 UTC

ATHENS (Reuters) – The European Union should be more specific on how it would support Greece in a crisis, to help lower the highly indebted country’s borrowing costs now, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Thursday.

Concern over Athens’ ability to repay its debt mountain has shaken confidence in the euro and prompted EU leaders to issue a vague pledge that they would take coordinated action, if needed, to preserve the stability of the single currency.

In an interview with Reuters, Papaconstantinou said while Greece respected the euro zone’s principle of dealing with fiscal problems by itself, it did not rule out seeking International Monetary Fund assistance, although it was not actively pursuing that option.

Snap Analysis: EU political support for Greece falls short

Paul Taylor
Feb 11, 2010 19:09 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – European Union leaders may have hoped that by declaring full political support for Greece’s efforts to overcome its debt crisis, they could avoid putting their hands in their wallets.

The initial financial market reaction when an EU summit ended on Thursday without any concrete financial support measures suggests they were wrong.

The euro slid on foreign exchanges, losing nearly 2 cents against the dollar at one stage. Greece’s borrowing costs spiked and the cost of insuring Greek debt against default jumped after the leaders brushed aside any specifics of a possible bailout.

Greek crisis sets euro zone enlargement back

Paul Taylor
Feb 9, 2010 16:46 UTC

PARIS (Reuters) – The Greek debt crisis has dealt a setback to prospects of enlarging the euro zone by highlighting the difficulties of managing the single currency area.

Policymakers will not say so officially but only tiny Estonia is likely to join the euro in the next five years, although “euro convergence” will remain the central policy anchor for all the European Union’s eastern newcomers.

“The Germans and the European Central Bank are determined not to let in another Greece,” said Lars Christensen, chief analyst at Danske Bank in Copenhagen.

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