George Papandreous Speech to Parliament on the Administration's Policy Initiatives for the Following Term of Government
Hellenic Parliament, 22 March 2004
For the President of PASOK and the leader of the Opposition in Parliament, the administration's priorities for the following term in office were laid out in an extremely broad and general manner, without fundamental details and strong commitments. It was, very much a campaign-style set of promises. For Mr. Papandreou, though, Three important questions remain unanswered: "How, When and How Much"
The new administration has made many promises across the board. In terms of wages, pensions, unemployment, economic growth, education and health care, the promises made amount to new state expenses of 15 billion Euros. First and foremost, the administration is required to spell out not only where will it get these funds, but how it will spend them and when. The fact though that they feel so extremely generous only two weeks after the general election contradicts their campaign statements that the economy is bankrupt. This is a vindication for PASOK and the Simitis administrations that worked long and hard to bring the economy to its current robust state.
Events in the Middle East and the Balkans make it abundantly clear for Mr. Papandreou that this is no time for the nation to look back and to look inward. Conservatives suggest that the dilemma today is freedom or security. But for Mr. Papandreou, the goal remains security for a free society. He thus called on the new administration not to shy away from foreign policy initiatives, to play its role in global co-operation against terrorism and in the effort to redistributing wealth around the world. For the President of PASOK, moreover, the Olympic Games are our great national bet. All Greeks must work together, across party lines, to make the best out of this historic opportunity.
As for PASOK, Mr. Papandreou made himself absolutely clear: "PASOK will remain at the centre of political developments in Greece and will continue to fight for national development and social justice. We made mistakes and we have acknowledged them. We made omissions and we have pointed them out. But nonetheless, PASOK has fulfilled its historic mission: it delivered all Greeks a nation in the 21st century that has bridged the social divides of the past century."
Greek citizens judge harshly those they love, trust and have great expectations from. PASOK will continue to perform all its duties and as Mr. Papandreou noted with emphasis, "Our opposition will be creative and substantive. We will fight for social rights, we will be reborn as a movement, we will be ever present!"