Photo taken on Aug. 20, 2018 shows a view of the Greek Parliament in Athens, Greece. Greece's exit on Monday from the bailout programs introduced eight years ago to avert a financial meltdown and restore growth of the debt-laden economy is an important first step forward, but no reason for celebrations, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told Xinhua. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
by Maria Spiliopoulou
ATHENS, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Greece's exit on Monday from the bailout programs introduced eight years ago to avert a financial meltdown and restore growth of the debt-laden economy is an important first step forward, but no reason for celebrations, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told Xinhua.
"It is a welcome fact that after eight years of adjustment programs Greece now can access the money markets at reasonable interest rates. This is an important first step. Yet there is no reason to celebrate," Papandreou, President of the Movement of Democratic Socialists, said in a written statement to Xinhua.
Greece now has a balanced budget, however has also lost 25 percent of GDP, austerity has often hurt the weakest part of society and unemployment is high with many young people migrating to find jobs elsewhere, the former prime minister noted.
"Now is the time for new initiatives, investment and social policies that will allow Greece to build up its own capacities, boost sustainable growth and reduce social inequalities," he said.
It is furthermore Greeks responsibility that they avoid mistakes in the future such as those that derailed the budget and ballooned the debt in 2009, mistakes that undermined Greece's credibility worldwide, he stressed.
"My belief is that at this crucial point we need to develop a wider consensus in our country, one that will take our country to further institutional and economic changes," Papandreou said.
These reforms will be helpful in attracting new investment, accelerating economic convergence with other EU countries and create incentives for many Greeks to return home, he explained.
"After many years of sacrifice, the Greek people demand, and I am sure that Greece is capable of, a transition to more stable and sustainable growth, keeping its deficits and debt in check, while providing for new jobs and hope for the Greek people," Papandreou said.