In less than a week, George Papandreou will inaugurate the 75th International Fair in Thessaloniki. As a years-long custom, the Prime Minister delivers a speech there thus setting the major priorities of the governmental policies for the upcoming year. But the upcoming address by Papandreou is of extraordinary significance, especially under the country's ongoing financial situation.
The future of Greek economy seems nebulous. The government is trying hard to guarantee the third IMF-EU package's installment, while rumors in the media refer to an updated, harder, version of the present bailout agreement – more sacrifices by the people, more reforms by the government in order to please its creditors. The daily “Ta Nea” writes that “September is going to be a hot month”, as long as the Greeks will be asked to put the hand deeper in pocket.
Papandreou understands that a core part of his government's success is to establish a new trustful relationship between people and the country's political leadership.
The position of George Papandreou isn't easy at all. Being between “Scylla and Charybdis”, the Prime Minister has to balance between the Troika's demands and peoples' mounting dissatisfaction for the austerity policies. As the Sunday edition of “To Vima” reveals, Mr.Papandreou is going to announce in Thessaloniki a €3 billion social package in order to enhance governmental programs against unemployment and promote medium-sized companies' development. Not bad, but certainly not enough.
The disappointment of the Greeks is far deeper – the roots are located in the corruption of the political system. “No politician has gone to jail”, is a usual phrase you may hear in political discussions around. Not a surprise, as long as the Greek political system seems to operate many decades now under the umbrella of an immunity. Prime Minister Papandreou has promised to bring an end to this status quo. He certainly understands that a core part of his government's success is to establish a new trustful relationship between people and the country's political leadership.
Courageous decisions are needed in order to bring the “thieves” (as the Greeks call them) to Justice. It is exasperating to know that you've got to suffer huge cut-backs in your budget and heavy taxation while bribery within the political system remains unpunished. In the end, it is a matter of Justice and dignity for Greek society.
George Papandreou has an exceptional opportunity in Thessaloniki: to offer a new “social contract” between his government and the Greeks. To initiate legal proceedings against those who intentionally mismanaged public finances for their own benefit. That seems to be the only way of re-gaining society's confidence and credibility.