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Venizelos: “Greece Has Made Mistakes and Must Implement the Terms”

Greece must accept the terms as set by its partners since it’s made big mistakes, claims PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos in an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, assuring our lenders that “they will have their money back.”

“We are ready to implement the guidelines, but they can also be adjusted,” explains Venizelos concerning the bailout program’s terms.

During the interview he affirmatively denies that the so-called Papandreou Party will become the Venizelos Party. “No, I do not belong to any political dynasty. I am the head of the Socialists, but the party is not my property,” he states.

“Had we applied earlier certain elements of the second bailout package, such as the reduction of the debt and the smaller cost of interest rates, we would have progressed much more by now,” adds Venizelos in his interview that was published today.

He goes on to warn of reforms that will be painful and notes that “without the people’s support, we will be unable to apply them.”

Regarding the national elections he states that they “will hopefully take place in May,” adding that people of PASOK “do not believe in single-party, standalone governments” but “in having a self-reliant country again.” When mentioned that Schäuble proposed postponing the elections, Venizelos answers that “everyone should respect the sovereignty of the EU countries. The organization of elections is a matter of national policy. Therefore, it does not need pressure from outside. The vast majority of Greeks accept the need for reform and want to keep our country inside the euro zone.”

When the Spiegel journalist asked Venizelos whether he would renegotiate the aid package as his conservative opponent Samaras has announced he would – in case he became prime minister – the PASOK leader pointed out that “there is a quarterly review to determine if the program is working” and added that further measures could be taken.

Asked why Greece finds it so hard to implement the reforms demanded by the troika, he replies, “We had too little time. In the past two years there was too much to do. There was only bad news everywhere – expenditures, wages and salaries were cut, taxes increased. It is difficult to get popular support for the necessary reforms.”

Venizelos assures that Greece’s creditors will get their money back and stresses that, “ The German taxpayer and the German government will benefit from this good investment” – meaning Greece’s debt crisis – as “ the German finance minister can borrow money almost for free and lend it at a small interest rate to us. Germany has already earned more than €400 million ($523 million) from us in the past two years”.

The former government Vice President and present Finance Minister also explains that Greece’s “debt accounts for only 2.5 percent of the total of all members of the euro zone,” thus “not representing the most serious spot in the crisis.”

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