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Greece Gets Its Mention At Jobs-and-Stability Conference Of The G20 …

  • November 4th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

g20-cannes.jpegg20-cannes-view2.jpegHeads of government of the twenty largest economies -G20 – got to business, looking at ways to strengthen the world system, at their meeting in Cannes.

The political eruption in Greece, with the referendum plan that threatened to over-turn agreements on the country’s indebtedness, provided a huge distraction on the first day.


The United States President, Barack Obama, set out the two priorities of the gathering, tinged by an urgent situation with joblessness at home:- resolving unemployment and achieving a global financial stability.

On the way to achieving that, is a plan to revive that behemoth of know-all economic rationalism of the 1980s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with an infusion for funds from 20.
The agency has major stakes in the European guarantee program, its Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), of which Greece has been a major beneficiary.

Last week, it was at the centre of a European Union agreement on managing the pressure on government borrowing in European states, with banks agreeing to participating in a write-off of Greek public debt – up to 50%. See EUAustralia Online, “Decision on debt at Brussels”, 27.10.11.

papandreou-g2.jpgOn Monday, the Prime Minister, George Papandreou (picture), announced he would commit acceptance of the deal to a referendum early on 2012; leaving the state in the limbo of ongoing crisis, carry-on funds uncertain.

European partners going to the gathering at Cannes certainly had words to say about preserving vital agreements that affected all. See EUAustralia Online, “Greek referendum plan: consternation”, 2.11.11.

Those words would have been a pale shadow of the utterances in  Athens, where the option of kicking the government in a vote, had diminished appeal in view of the likely economic costs.

On Thursday Mr Papandreou was in retreat, proposing to call off the referendum if his Opposition would get behind the national rescue plan agreed with the EU.

“If the assent were there, we would not need a referendum”, he said.

“The referendum was never an end in itself.”

Journalists working in Greece in the time of the Pasok party governments of the 1980s and 1990s, including this writer, would be told about a problem for the party:- the son, George, the young Education Minister, might not be bright enough to fill the shoes of the father – hard-headed Prime Minister Andeas Papandreou.

It is the kind of, repeated, comment that gets put aside; the man presented as an affable team politician, American-bred, media-wise.

Then the events of this week, and the buckling under pressure, would bring it back to mind.

“Why did he do it?” asked a commentary for Reuters, called “Explaining Papandreou’s referendum gamble”:-

“Panicked by riots in the street? Hoping to quell political opposition? Or did he simply want to throw in the towel? Greeks were Thursday still debating Prime Minister George Papandreou’s apparently suicidal decision to call for a referendum on an EU bailout deal, which plunged the Euro into a new crisis and enraged his European partners …”

gillard.jpgWith the G20 side-stepping the Greek issue for now, except as a component of bigger things, the Australian representative, Prime Minister Julia Gillard (picture), was keeping with the strength.

After brief friendly embraces with confreres there, Barack Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, the Prime Minister had a quick word about parties needing to keep to their commitments.

“It is more important than ever that words must become deeds”, she said, emphasising that arrangements for Greek or other special needs, would have implications for all partners in the world econ omy.

She indicated general support also for the idea of increasing the reserves of the IMF.


Luke Baker and Daniel Flynn, “G20 to look past Greece with pledges, euro firewall”, Reuters, London, 3.11.11., (4.11.11).

Euronews, Lyon, Video: “Papandreou could drop Greek bailout referendum”, 3.11.11., (4.11.11).

Isabel Malsang and Catherine Boitard, “Why did he do it? Explaining Papandreou’s referendum gamble”, AFP, 3.11.11., (4.11.11).